Kids in the Lyell-Otis neighborhood experience a violent crime rate more than six times higher than the rate in the suburbs and 60 percent higher than the overall city average. That’s according to a study by Common Ground Health. For that very reason is why Cameron Community Ministries is expanding to reach at-risk youth and encourage them to overcome the odds.
A home right next to the main building will be renovated into a new teen center.
“This awesome new property is going be renovated inside and out for youth and teenagers,” said Jennifer Muniga, Executive Director. “We show really positive outcomes for our young kids. So we know that should continue for the older kids. if we can stay in their lives, there’s no reason that they won’t succeed in high school and beyond.”
Currently, Cameron Community Ministries has programs for students up to the sixth grade. They age out of the program right after. However, many of them still want after-school programs during their middle and high school years. Leaders have heard them out and they’re making it happen.
“Teenagers are a lot different than five-year-olds, so they need their own space that is appropriate for their age and development,” said Muniga.
In addition to keeping youth off the streets, the teen center will have academic support, mentorship and help students develop career-oriented skills. The center will also add parking space and a community garden.
“Have the teens involved in the garden, nutrition education and you know teaching the community and the kids about healthy eating,” said Muniga. “There’s going to be a very large almost a thousand square foot addition, so it’s going to go all the way to the back of that fence. it’s going to be a big multipurpose room where our kids could have the opportunity or arts, culture, and music.”
When it’s all set and done it’s all about building a foundation for life success among teens in the flower city.
The cost of the center is around $500K, and they need $42,000 more to reach that goal. They’re raising the money through fundraisers, private donors, and grants.
The new teen center is set to open by September.