10/11/07 — Youth member advises board to think of teens

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Youth member advises board to think of teens

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on October 11, 2007 1:55 PM

Ebony Hagans, 16, is tired of not having anything to do in Goldsboro.

She is not in a gang. She doesn't cause trouble. She is just plain bored.

The newest member of the Goldsboro Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission wants her city to think more about young people's activities as it makes plans for the future.

And as a junior at Eastern Wayne High School she has a few suggestions.

She told members of the advisory commission Tuesday that the parks and recreation services are not meeting the needs of local teens.

"We're not getting, not want we want, but what we need," she said.

The parks are much better for young children and adults, she said, and many, if not all, of the programs are more for those age groups than hers.

"There is the Boys and Girls Club, but you grow out of that," Ms. Hagan said. "It seems almost like Goldsboro doesn't want teenagers included."

Not all teenagers are gang members and troublemakers, she added. Some just want to have good, old-fashioned fun.

"There's nothing here for us. There's nothing here in Goldsboro except for the movies and skating rink, and not everybody has the money to go to the movies every weekend," she said.

A few commission members had suggestions for activities.

"We used to have a dance every Friday night at the community building when I was growing up," commission member Mike Farfour said. "They need something like that."

Ms. Hagans said that a few alumni from Eastern Wayne were the ones involved with coordinating a club downtown called "The Boot", where teenagers could hang out and listen to music.

City Council, however, denied permits for the club because of some logistic and other concerns dealing with managing that sort of establishment.

But, Ms. Hagans added, that was what teenagers needed.

"We need something like that where we can hang out," she said.

Commission Chairwoman Betsy Wharton and Parks and Recreation Director Sonya Shaw agreed that young people need a place to spend their free time in the afternoons, evenings and weekends.

They agreed to look into having a youth center or making one of the department's current facilities into one, but added that one of the main concerns of the commission was safety.

"The need to have a safe environment to go to," Ms. Wharton said.

To do that, there has to be security measures as well as consequences, they added.

Ms. Hagans agreed.

"We need structure," she said of her and those her age. "We need some kind of structure."

Trouble is going to happen regardless, she added.

"There are going to be people who come in looking for trouble, but you have to let them know that if they cause trouble, they won't be allowed back," she said. "Once you get them out of the way, keep pushing and pushing to get rid of those kinds of people, then they won't come back."

If someone really enjoys going somewhere or doing something, they aren't going to jeopardize their ability to get in, she said.

In Chapel Hill, they have a club where they had only a few minor problems "once every four or five months," Mrs. Shaw said.

She added that most of that was because teens understood that if they acted up, they weren't coming back.

In other business, the commission discussed ongoing projects as well as using its next meeting to tour the parks.

The commission is also encouraging civic groups, churches and schools to participate in the Adopt-A-Park program. Call the Parks and Recreation Department at 739-7480 for more information.