Teens Seek Meaningful Activities in Neighborhood

by Peter ReeseHanging out COA Youth and Family Center's After School Drop-In

Ask a young person what there is to do in Riverwest and you will get a variety of answers. Playing basketball seems to top the list with “hanging out” being a close second. The days of paper routes and odd jobs seem to be a thing of the past. While most young people will say there is not much to do in Riverwest, a short question and answer session will reveal many things that teen-agers do to occupy themselves. Often, all that is needed for positive activities to happen is some adult supervision and parental guidance. Even though it sometimes doesn’t seem like it, children and teens do enjoy having supervision and guidelines. A person in Wisconsin cannot work until they are old enough (15) to get a work permit. Jobs in Riverwest for youth may seem difficult to find, due to the absence of fast food franchises and large grocery stores, but traditional work for young people such as snowshoveling, lawnmowing, raking, and baby-sitting for neighbors is always an option. For teen-agers to be actively involved in work, though, parents must stress the importance of a strong work ethic early in their children’s lives and guide them to the jobs that will help create that work ethic.


Both the Holton Street Youth Center (YMCA) at Holton and Burleigh and the COA Youth and Family Centers at 909 E. Garfield (one block south of North Avenue) have structured activities with consistent supervision. Both facilities have membership fees of only $5.00 per year for dozens of positive activities. Most activities are free with membership. For additional programs such as field trips, day camp, and organized athletics, there may be additional cost. Scholarships are always available. Each facility has features that will serve individual families in different ways. Parents and children are more than welcome to tour both facilities. For more information on either of these programs, call Patience Wade at 263-8383 (COA) or Shelly Nelson-Green 264-9622 (YMCA). COA Youth & Family Centers offer a wide variety of programs for Riverwest teens, including several special interest clubs, homework help, the computer center (for homework, games, and instruction), arts and crafts programming, a full-size gym, and great field trips (camping, canoeing, Great America, Museum, Bucks games, Brewers games, swimming). They also offer:

  • Latin Drumming on Mondays through April (4-5:30pm)
  • Health and Sexuality discussions on Tuesdays and Thursdays (5-6pm)
  • Teen Concession Stand every day
  • TEENWORK job skills, training, and placement (next session TBD)
  • Fit, Fine & Fabulous (girls only) on Mondays & Wednesdays from 6-7pm
  • African Dance (every week, days & times vary)
  • Choir (every week, days & times vary)
  • Open gym and recreation (daily from 6-7:30pm).

Over the past year, COA Youth & Family Centers has seen a substantial increase in the number of participating teens — from five to 15 per day last year to 25 to 55 per day this year. Programs are free to members, and membership is just $5 per year. Separate programs are available for youth 7-11 years old, and for youth 11-14 years old. For additional information contact Patience Wade or Kari Franciskovic at 263-8383 or stop in at 909 E. Garfield Ave. Holton Youth Center The Holton Youth Center on Holton and Burleigh offers the following activities for neighborhood teens:

  • Teen Hoop Night (age 11-17): Friday and Saturday nights, 6 — 8 p.m.
  • Teen Employment and Training Program (age 14-17): Tuesday, 6 — 8 p.m.
  • Adventures in Art (age 11-17): Saturday, 6 — 8 p.m.
  • Teen Adventure Club (age 11-17): Saturday, 1-5 p.m. $20
  • School Days Out (age 11-17): April 1-5, May 8, 8 a.m. — 6 p.m., $5

The youth center also offers computer classes, bimonthly teen dances, Youth in Government programs, a Teen Achievers Leaders Club, and Youth Volunteer Corps. There will be a Safe Night Lock-In April 16 and June 15 from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. Activities are free unless otherwise noted. For more information, please call Shelly Nelson-Green at 264-9622. Riverwest Currents – Volume 1 – Issue 3 – April 2002