The Echo

Teen center created for students

Annabella Strathman

When senior Anna Gleason first heard about a potential teen center in St. Louis Park, the idea of a place to be with other teens in a relaxed environment piqued her interest.

“Two people, Thom Miller, who is on City Council, and Julia (Schmelzer), another one of our leaders, came to Natural Helpers and they talked about their idea, and that they wanted to make a teen center. I was really interested in it, so I introduced myself to them, and that’s kind of how it all started,” Gleason said.  

Julia Schmelzer, a leader of the teen center planning committee, said from the beginning of the process, the leaders agreed the project had to be a student-led initiative.

“Both Thom and I were thinking that a teen center would be really cool, but in order for it to really work it would have to come from the students. It couldn’t be something the adults had thought of,” Schmelzer said.

Gleason said she defines a teen center as somewhere for teens to express themselves in a relaxed atmosphere.

“A teen center, the way we are thinking about it, is a place for people to come and just be themselves — somewhere where everyone in the community feels like they are welcome,” Gleason said.

Sophomore Grace Adams-Maas said she thinks a teen center would be a beneficial resource for the teens.

“It would be nice to have somewhere for teens to hang out that isn’t someone’s house, but isn’t somewhere that could be potentially unsafe,” Adams-Maas said.

The team plans on giving a presentation to the Community Education Advisory Council (CEAC) this fall, according to Gleason.

“(The CEAC) is an existing group of adults that works in the community. So the idea is that if they are interested, that CEAC could be the sponsoring organization to help us get established,” Schmelzer said.

Gleason said this presentation is the team’s first step to spread the word about their ideas.

“We thought that (a presentation) would be a good beginning point to get the idea out there, so that people will talk about it and that’s honestly our main goal here in the beginning stages,” Gleason said.

According to Gleason, the team focuses on teen mental health.

“With mental health being a big issue now I think that having a place where kids can go and be stress-free and be themselves would be very beneficial,” Gleason said.screen-shot-2016-09-07-at-10-07-56-pm

Schmelzer said it is very easy for other teens to get involved in the planning and share their opinions by contacting any of the teens already involved.

“There are three main ways to help out. You can come and be part of the planning team, by contacting either Anna Gleason or Makayla Jones-Klausing, you can come and show support at the city council meeting which has not been scheduled yet, or you can sign a petition,” Schmelzer said.

Schmelzer said the petition will not be created until the city council meeting is planned, and it would more than likely be signed at school.

For now, no petition has been created and no city council meeting has been planned. For more information contact Gleason or Jones-Klausing.

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Teen center created for students