Creativity Blooms at the Amity Teen Center
|Band Night at the Amity Teen Center. Photo provided by Amity Teen Center.|
Weekends are rocking at the Amity Teen Center. On Friday and Saturday nights, crowds can swell to over 100 young people coming out to listen to line-ups of four or five bands. Chances are, they heard about the show from the performers themselves.
"We are teaching the bands self-promotion and marketing," says Amity Teen Center Executive Director Jennifer DiBlanda. "We pay them a percentage of the gate, so the more friends they bring in, the more money they walk out the door with."
In addition to the popular band nights on the weekends, the center is open three days a week after school. It offers teenagers a place to do homework, play video games (on computers assembled by young members), shoot baskets, or simply hang out with friends.
Community service is also a big part of the center. Groups from the center regularly visit the sick and elderly. They play bingo with veterans at the VA hospital and bocce ball at a local nursing home.
One group at the center is starting a medical loan closet as a nonprofit business. The organization plans to build a collection of crutches, wheelchairs, walkers, and other medical devices that can be loaned out for free to people who lack the insurance coverage or money to afford the items.
The business idea, says DiBlanda, was created and is being carried out by the teenagers.
"We have a marketing team and an administrative team in place," says DiBlanda. "We've started marketing that we are looking for donations and have even loaned out a pair of crutches already."
The Amity Teen Center is celebrating its 30th year of serving teens in the surrounding area that includes: Woodbridge, Bethany, Orange, and New Haven. Operations are funded largely through grants and fundraising, says DiBlanda.
Its annual Chilly Chili road race attracted 700 runners this year, and many of the volunteers and participants were teen center alumni. In the fall, the center will hold its annual battle of the bands at Toad's Place.
"We have a huge group of former teens who come back," says DiBlanda. "Kids share this place with their friends and new waves come in every year."
To learn more about the Amity Teen Center, visit its profile on giveGreater.org.
Did You Know?
13 percent of Greater New Haven Youth aged 16-19 are not attending high school and not employed. This ratio ranges from 3 percent in outer-ring suburbs to 14 percent in New Haven low-income neighborhoods, according to the Greater New Haven Community Index 2016.
This story is part of the Inspiration Monday story series produced by The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.