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GLENDALE : Summit Explores New Youth Activities

Since the Glendale Teen Center closed last year, life has been rather dull for Alex Aharonian, a senior at Crescenta Valley High School.

When he and his friends shoot pool or even just hang out, Aharonian said they usually drive to Pasadena because Glendale “is pretty dead.” The teen center, during the few months it was open, was a safe haven for students to gather and talk, play games or do homework in a supervised, yet unstructured environment.

“It was good because it was geared more toward teens. As it is, young people aren’t spending their free time in Glendale because it isn’t modernized, it doesn’t have the things they want to do,” said Aharonian, among 150 students from local middle and high schools who participated in the first Glendale Youth Summit on Wednesday night.

The summit, held at Glendale High School, also included about 150 parents and city and school officials. Teen-agers and adults brainstormed ways to provide more activities and help keep young people out of trouble during the four-hour session staged by the Glendale Youth Task Force, a group created by the city last year to find out what youth-oriented services and programs are lacking in the community.

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“The feeling was that there needed to be some kind of group that would assess how the community is addressing the needs of our youth,” said Nello Iacono, the city’s parks and recreation director and a task force member. “We also felt it was imperative that kids be part of the discussion and the solution.”

Summit participants spent about two hours in workshops discussing the good and bad of existing youth-oriented programs in the city.

They also wrote wish lists of what they would like to have, mentioning everything from more athletic facilities and programs to employment programs, mental health services, sex education, counseling, child care and transportation for youth. Some students said that in addition to programs and activities, better relationships should be fostered between young people and the Police Department and other government agencies.

Organizers said the ideas expressed will be compared with a survey taken last year of about 1,200 students, 800 parents and 78 local organizations that provide youth programs. Officials hope to compile an inventory of such programs and try to fill in the gaps where services are not being provided.

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Kevin McGinnis, a senior at Hoover High School, said he was glad to air his views but hopes the end result of the summit “isn’t just a report on a piece of paper.”

“It’s not whether or not we can come up with ideas, it’s whether anyone listens to them,” McGinnis said.


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