Take a generational gap widened by technology, add a shifting cultural atmosphere that permeates our daily lives, and then toss in a nearly unprecedented virus that seems to redefine a ‘new normal’ daily into the mix. Now add that into all of the timeless challenges that go into navigating childhood and the teen years, and you may start to get a sense of what our modern youth are currently up against.
Luckily for students and other young people in Rochester, Indiana, The Outlet Youth Center is there to help. The idea for a place where kids could congregate had been brewing long before the COVID-19 crisis occurred, and through the good graces of generous donors, hard-working volunteers, and a partnership with Rochester Community Schools, the Center opened its doors in August of 2020.
With their goal of making a positive difference in the personal lives, family lives, education, and future of students, The Outlet has offered after school programs that include homework help, arts, and recreational activities for students who need or are interested in them. Also, programs like Art Club, 4-H Club, STEM Club, Preschool Book Club, and an instructional Yoga series have been offered for structured activities, while billiards, air hockey, Foosball, a basketball game, and more are available for visitors to use for social interaction and to just have some fun.
Arts and crafts in general have been a favorite of both attendees and volunteer staff, and according to Outlet Center Director Patience Hisey, the benefits of creativity have already shown measurable results.
“I’ve seen a huge difference with the kids and the focus they bring to the art programs,” she says, citing an improvement in attention spans that recent projects involving mosaic tiles and origami had stimulated. “We have a couple of kids who just come for the art, and since we provide all of the stuff they need to be creative, all they have to bring is themselves.”
When it comes to helping them realize the benefits of their academic and artistic potential, The Outlet Center provides young people with an opportunity to access their most important resource for success in this world: each other.
“They’re building relationships by being provided a space to be in,” Patience says. “We’re grateful to everybody in the community who helped us be able to provide that space for them.”
Weekly art classes and a twice-monthly ‘Craft Club’ are currently available, but for the most up-to-date info on all that The Outlet Youth Center has to offer, be sure to check out their Facebook page for schedules and more.