BOWLING GREEN STATE UNIVERSITY


Teen Center Director Niki Messmore (left) and BGSU student Chelsea Scholl, a volunteer at the center, chat with Becky Kubacki, United Way of Wood County director, and Executive Vice President Linda Dobb during Community Collaboration Day

Teen Center Director Niki Messmore (left) and BGSU student Chelsea Scholl, a volunteer at the center, chat with Becky Kubacki, United Way of Wood County director, and Executive Vice President Linda Dobb during Community Collaboration Day

Teen Center takes Community Collaboration Day spotlight

The importance of Bowling Green’s new Teen Center struck Niki Messmore, its director, on the day it opened, Sept. 17.


Campus and community attendees at the third annual Community Collaboration Day Oct. 11

When she had to turn a boy away because the center’s required permission slip had to be signed by a parent—and his friend’s mother wouldn’t suffice—the boy ran out crying. Messmore learned why he was so upset when she caught up with him. “I don’t have a place to go,” he said, because his parents wouldn’t be off work until 4 p.m.

“That was heartbreaking to me,” the BGSU graduate told a Community Collaboration Day audience Oct. 11, because so many others face the same situation.

For local junior high-age students, however, the Teen Center, located in the Veterans Building in Bowling Green City Park, is now a place they can go after school.
 
A cooperative effort among BGSU, the city and the city schools, and a United Way affiliate, the center was the focus of the third annual collaboration observance, held in the Sebo Athletic Center.

Available to students from Bowling Green Christian Academy and home-schooled students, as well as Bowling Green and St. Aloysius Junior High students, the center offers homework help, mentoring, outdoor sports and other services from 2:30-6 p.m. Monday-Thursday.

It’s also a place where teens can just relax and feel safe, noted Messmore, an AmeriCorps member who received her BGSU bachelor’s degree in political science in August. Average attendance during the first few weeks has been 22, she said, adding that 45 teens are registered.

Among the current BGSU students who staff the center as volunteers is Chelsea Scholl, a junior majoring in social work. As a Bowling Green High School graduate, she can relate to the feelings of local teens.

“Most of us remember how awkward junior high was,” said Scholl, recalling her own experience with having few places to hang out after school. She was interested in working on a mentoring program pairing BGSU students with younger counterparts when the Teen Center opportunity came along. “I’m very excited to be a part of this movement in Bowling Green,” Scholl said.

Hugh Caumartin, city schools’ superintendent and another Community Collaboration Day speaker, pointed out that the time when most teens get in trouble is not evenings or weekends, but during the center’s after-school hours, because of the supervision issue. He called the center “a wonderful example” of collaboration in Bowling Green being taken to a higher level.

“It was a need in the community for a place, a support structure, for our young people,” added BGSU President Sidney Ribeau, and the University and other volunteers “stepped up and made it happen.”

Dr. Linda Dobb, executive vice president of BGSU and driving force behind the Teen Center, also spoke briefly during the program, as did Dr. James Michael Smith, vice president for economic development and regional growth, and Bowling Green Mayor John Quinn.  


October 15, 2007