Fri, Dec. 06

Cottonwood Teen Center idea takes shape

Local teens brainstrom plans for proposed Cottonwood teen center Saturday. VVN/Jon Pelletier

Local teens brainstrom plans for proposed Cottonwood teen center Saturday. VVN/Jon Pelletier

COTTONWOOD -- About 45 people attended a Saturday Teen Center Summit at the Public Safety building to test the feasibility of developing a center for teens in the Upper Verde Valley, "a place where they can just hang." It was a pivotal meeting to reach consensus on issues to move the project forward.

Among the group were 13 young people, including students from Mingus High, Cottonwood Middle School and New Visions Academy.

Mayor Diane Joens says while the city is represented on the task force, the concept is expected to evolve from within the community rather than as a function of the city. The faith-based organization, For Our City, which has coordinated two community cleanups, identified a teen center as a priority project. They are looking for a place that would attract all teens, including at-risk kids. During the past year, a group has been brainstorming the concept as the teen center commission.

Lori Deutsch of First Things First and Merilee Fowler of MATForce and Community Counts, are both trained as facilitators and kept Saturday's discussion moving forward.

The four issues that surfaced from the meeting were 1) to identify a building or place to meet, 2) focus on an age range and programming, 3) establish collaboration and finally, 4) fundraising.

The group determined that the programming needs to be "youth centered, not adult-centered."

One teen also urged that there be "follow-through, so that action follows words."

Subcommittees were created around each of the four issues.

A follow-up meeting will is scheduled Feb. 7 at 4 p.m. at the Public Safety building and another meeting at the same time and location Feb. 21.

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