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April 14, 2010 > A safe and supervised place for teens

A safe and supervised place for teens

By Dustin Findley

In 1999, the Youth Advisory Commission approached Milpitas City Council and requested a safe and secure recreational venue for teens. When the Sports Center was renovated, a portion of it was set aside as the Milpitas Teen Center.

"It's a free program for teens so they have somewhere to go," said Samu Tiumalu, Youth Program Coordinator.

The teen center has pool tables, a ping pong table, couches, a computer lab, a full kitchen and large-screen TV. The facilities and programs are geared towards teens.

A break dancing group, with five members originally, now has around 70 participants. The dancers practice on Mondays and Wednesdays. Many teens, female and male, want to learn how to cook; a cookery class on the third Thursday of every month teaches young people how to prepare inexpensive, simple, nutritious meals at home. Homework club convenes during the school year. Summer activities include field trips to Great America and Raging Waters.

While most of the programs are free, they do charge for dances, open mics, break dancing events... to raise funds for field trips and other events.

Milpitas Sports Center caters primarily for adults. Teens need a place for recreational activities.

"If there's nowhere for them to go, they could become at-risk. There's little else to occupy them," said Tiumalu who hopes to attract more teens to the facility. "Right now most of our teens are at risk.

"I just want them to come, to know there is somewhere for them in Milpitas and it's free. We have trained-staff who serves as helpers, counselors and friends and who really enjoy working with them. It's important for teens to have somewhere to go. Nowadays, both parents usually work, so children are usually at home, doing nothing."

Being with other people nurtures social skills. According to Tiumala, those who attend the teen center are taught to respect and to get along with each other. Staff addresses unruliness immediately. This prepares them for the future, helps them with school and makes them feel connected to the city. Young people, many of whom will remain in Milpitas, are our future."

Sareen Sandhu is the Youth Advisory Commission Chair. She has been a member since 7th grade, chair for the last two years and vice chair the year before that.

"It's a great way to provide the teens in the City with a safe haven where they can just be teens and enjoy facilities and programs available to them. They're important members of society," said Sandhu. "The Teen Center shows young people the city cares about them. By the same token, there are programs the city needs. The Teen Center is the ideal place to provide them."

Milpitas Teen Center is open Monday to Friday from 2 to 7 p.m. and closed Saturday and Sunday. It is located to the right of the main entrance to the swimming pool at Milpitas Sports Center.

Milpitas Teen Center
1325 East Calaveras Blvd., Milpitas
(408) 586-3296

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