Sunday Sound Off: What more can we do for teens?

Johnson City Press • Jan 6, 2019 at 6:30 AM

As idioms go, none is truer than “idle hands are the devil’s tools,” especially when it comes to impressionable young people. Boredom can be a time bomb.

That’s why having safe outlets for kids to hang out during off-school hours is so important. Johnson City luckily has a number of recreation centers and community agencies filling that need — the city’s parks and recreation department, the Boys & Girls Club, Rise Up, Coalition for Kids, youth sports leagues, church groups and scout troops all come to mind. Each fills a different niche, providing families with much needed options.

One more outlet opens this week. Keystone Community Center, a city facility in the former Keystone Elementary School building on Bert Street, has a newly renovated game room for teens.

“We had some kids that still wanted to hang around, so we wanted to provide something fun for them to do in a safe environment,” Program Coordinator Rachel Bowers told Press Staff Writer Brandon Paykamian last week. “Basically, any teen in the community can come and use it for free.”

Equipped with modern game consoles, a pool table, ping-pong table, a large flat screen TV and other games, the room will allow teens to remain at the center in evenings after Keystone’s regular open gym hours. Keystone will get things rolling with an open house Thursday from 5-9 p.m.

Families are fortunate to have another option to keep kids active.

It’s been three decades since Johnson City had a full-service teen center – Spinners in downtown being the last incarnation. Neighboring Kingsport’s Rascals Teen Center closed in 2014 after attendance waned.

What more could our community offer adolescents for safe, clean fun? Are there more free entertainment opportunities to keep them busy and away from unhealthy temptations?

Here’s your chance to sound off. Send your comments to [email protected] Please include your name, telephone number and address for verification. Letters may be no longer than 300 words and will be edited for grammar, style and length.

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