Housed in a loft, the Landfall Teen Center has been the community gathering point for older youth since 1999. Teens helped renovate the space, and have provided input on staffing decisions. They created and managed events like a haunted house and summer carnival that have become part of Landfall’s community fabric. Teen Center programming provides computer access, cooking and art activities, sports and fitness programs, field trips, school, job and career guidance, and leadership development opportunities.
Our teens launched a 2011 summer-in-motion with a St. Croix River canoe trip, sustaining that flow with intense inter-program soccer games against Cimarron teens. Bolstered by this experience, some went on to play on school teams. With staff support, teens found summer jobs. One youth, working for Twin Cities Tree Trust, earned a Governor’s Awards for outstanding leadership and achievement. During the fall, they transformed the Teen Center into a Haunted House, dispensing fright to the tens of visitors who ventured into their creation. Staff and volunteers organized college tours for high school seniors contemplating choices after high school. Around Thanksgiving, teens contributed dishes to a Teen Center potluck.
Teen Center programming and staff have had a strong impact on participants. Teens report that they have learned how to work better with peers, have input on programming, take pride in what they have accomplished, and feel like they have made a difference in the community. Youth cite staff as being attentive and approachable, and stress the importance of education and planning for the future.