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Mount Vernon Seeking New Activities For Youths

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – Mount Vernon leaders listened to the youth of the community at the Haven Community Center on Wednesday night to find out what activities and programs they would like to see in the city.

Council member Richard Thomas said that the purpose of the forum was to understand the needs of the youth and to see what the city can provide for them. Thomas said there aren’t enough programs for youth in Mount Vernon especially in the summertime.

“We want to listen to the kids and see what works for them so we can give them options so they are not hanging out on the streets,” Thomas said. “Right now there isn’t enough to do. There is only so much walking around a person can do. Frankly, we need to listen to them and make strategic decisions that we can support.”

Aisha Arenas, a volunteer and fundraiser for the Haven Community Center, said that if they can tap into what the youth of the city needs, there is potential to offer more positive activities.

“They wouldn’t be susceptible to hanging out and getting in trouble,” Arenas said. “Maybe if we can get their opinions on what is needed we can focus our attention on something more positive.”

Suggestions proposed by Thomas, based on feedback from the youth, include a music studio and other activities involving technology. Thomas said youth told him that they are interested in programs involving the Internet, Facebook and video games.

“Maybe we can put them in touch with game designers,” Thomas said. “We might be able to create a space for them to interact and build upon those skills.”

Still, at this point, any new activates would be a plus for the youth, Arenas said.  She said that once kids leave elementary school, the amount of things to do for teenagers in Mount Vernon dries up.

“The programs in the city are not geared to preteens and teenagers,” Arenas said. “That’s the problem we have.”

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