'HI, WELCOME TO TEEN LOUNGE'
Cydny Fletcher and crew celebrate the popular program's 10th birthday
When Cydny Fletcher walked into Lake Oswegos Teen Lounge for the first time in 2006, she knew she had found her dream job.
From my previous job at a K-8 program, I realized I really liked working with middle school kids, says Fletcher, who is in charge of youth and teen programming for the Parks & Recreation Department. When I told my friends that I was going to run a teen program, they said, Have you lost your mind?
But the truth is, she really had found her niche. And last week, Fletcher and a huge gathering of teens celebrated the 10th birthday of the Teen Lounge, which is now located in the Palisades building at 1500 Greentree Road.
The popular lounge offers a variety of programs and activities for kids in grades 6-12, including an After-School Youth Program (ASAP) for students in junior high. There are classes and clubs, games like pool and foosball, homework help, craft projects, movies, games, sports competitions and more.
Ive been looking at this 10-year thing, Fletcher said Friday during a break from the hot dog grill, and Ive seen how the teens have been really valued and how much theyve grown up and how much theyve accomplished.
Only two students showed up on Fletchers first day, but she says she and the increasing number of teens who now attend the program have grown together. Our volunteers really listen to all the teens who come here, Fletcher says. We ask, What do you want? This is your Teen Lounge.
Teens who come here experience independence and learn how to make good decisions, she says. It was fun to see our program grow from two kids a day to 50 (and even up to 75) every day. Weve figured out what were the best programs and figured out the best structure. We think kids really like coming here.
A look at the programs upcoming offerings shows why. Theres a human Hungry Hungry Hippos game scheduled for Friday night, and a Harry Potter trivia night set for Sept. 30. On Oct. 21, teens will go on a laser tag field trip.
Perhaps the best decision Fletcher ever made was starting the Youth Action Council (YAC). It immediately gave her a group of teens eager to form a model program, and it was the first YAC members who made the decision to welcome every teenager with the now-familiar Hi, welcome to the Teen Lounge who came through the door.
Kids were free to be their authentic selves, Fletcher says. If they had a rough day at school, they could come here and start a clean slate.
Teen Lounge numbers really started to rise about five years
ago, when the program was opened to sixth-graders. The
wider age range made it a much stronger program, Fletcher says, and fulfilled her ideal of having
a program for kids through-
out their school days in Lake Oswego.
Still, there was a time when Fletcher and her crew feared Teen Lounge attendance might suddenly drop off. That was when the City made the decision to sell the West End Building, forcing much of the Parks & Rec Department including the Teen Lounge to move to a location that is not as centrally located.
But the teens kept right on coming, and last weeks 10th-year party was hopping, with kids playing, laughing and chowing down on hot dogs.
Fletcher was the target of hundreds of hugs from grateful, happy kids. But she thinks there is more to be done at Teen Lounge.
I hope I can do this another 10 years, she says.
The Teen Lounge is open from 3-7 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, go to http://www.LOTeenScene.org.