"Teen Night" providing safe spaces in Albany | WNYT.com

"Teen Night" providing safe spaces in Albany

Emily Burkhard
Created: November 06, 2020 11:27 PM

ALBANY - On Friday night, the Boys & Girls Club of the Capital Area held the first “Teen Night” since the pandemic began.

Organizers said they wanted to give teens a place to connect with one another and to learn about resources in our area. They feel it's sorely needed amid the pandemic and the gun violence we've seen this year.

Program Manager David Gordon said they had a full roster of teens coming to the club regularly, but after the pandemic hit they saw their numbers drop off.

Friday night’s event kicks off not only biweekly "Teen Night" events, but also a new teen program that's going to be available three days a week at the club.

Gordon said they're offering free use of the basketball courts, recording studio, dance spaces, game room and computer lab.

Though those activities are attractive, Gordon said the most important thing to the teens is being with one another.

"I think the response from a lot of teens is I want to hang out with my friends you know my parents are kind of leery of where we're going, we just need a safe place that we can go to have fun and parents feel safe that we're going there," Gordon said. "I think the Boys & Girls Club will provide that."

Mark Bobb-Semple, a Boys & Girls Club board member, grew up as a club kid. He said the connections he made there saved his life.

Naturally, he wanted to give a new generation of teens that same opportunity.

"That's the formula you know positive adults, food and a good time you know and so that formula works no matter where it is,” Bobb-Semple said.

With the days getting shorter, some parents are comfortable with their teens walking to the club in the dark. That's where community partners, like Just Be Ready, step in to help.

"So what we try to do with just be ready to provide transportation to some of those kids who can't get here,” Just Be Ready President Kevin Mitchell said.

Iyana Weedon, 14, and Layla Ford, 16, said “Teen Night” is definitely something the community needs right now.

"I feel like it can change people like the way they think of violence, towards violence so I think that's a good idea,” Ford said.

"It was just fun to get out the house for this,” Weedon said.

"Teen Nights" will be taking place at the Delaware Avenue location every other Friday night.

For more information, you can visit our the Boys & Girls Club website.

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