Amherst to consider youth centre?

Darrell Cole
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Youth town council could take lead role in strategy

Dr. Lena Walker speaks to members of Amherst town council on Monday.

AMHERST – Re-establishing a youth drop-in centre and a young network have been identified as priorities by the town’s young people, says a consultant hired to develop a youth strategy for Amherst.

Dr. Lena Walker held a focus group and a series of meetings with young people in the community over the past several months and introduced her recommendations to council during its committee-of-the-whole meeting on Monday.

“Some of this can be done in 30 days for less than $5,000. All the recommendations could be implemented in a year, especially if the town owns a piece of property that it could use for a youth centre,” Walker told council.

Along with a youth-led network, Walker suggested creating a mentoring database, creating youth leadership and outreach training so young people can take the ball and run with it into the future.

“The Amherst Youth Town Council is well positioned to develop the network and a future visions for youth website can be put together to help connect the pieces for a minimal cost and not take that long,” Walker said.

She also recommends a comprehensive public awareness campaign about youth issues.

Walker said the town has many “fantastic assets” that can be build upon to close the gaps that have been identified by young people who feel as though their opinions and needs aren’t being met by the community.

She suggested that a lot of work needs to done to close the gaps identified by young people and that includes more co-operation and understanding by adults and young people. Key is listening to young people and allowing them to be part of the solution,” Walker said.

Coun. Robert Bird, who played a key role in creating the youth council after the 2008 election, asked Walker what the next steps are in implementing a youth strategy.

Walker said one of the first steps would be to bring a group of youth together with a group of adults to set the ball in motion. She said some of her recommendations can be done in just a month.

Coun. Terry Rhindress said he’s looking forward to moving forward, but added the last youth centre didn’t go well because there wasn’t a lot of buy-in from young people.

“We have to take our time to make sure we do it right,” Rhindress said.

Coun. George Baker is looking forward to reading Walker’s report, adding it could build on some of the programs already in place, such as those offered by the Cumberland YMCA.

Mayor Robert Small suggested council take the time to read Walker’s report before any decisions are made. He said a youth strategy remains a priority for council and needs to be implemented.

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

Organizations: Amherst Youth Town Council

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Recent comments

  • Doug P.
    February 18, 2014 - 14:02

    The YMCA used to be such a center until the Town forced the tax payers to turn it into a premiere gym and fitness club. So taxpayers are footing the bills for the YMCA and this new center and staff? You can call it the YMI paying for all of this and I still have to pay a membership? I also love how they sugar it up and slide it all through by saying "oh but it's for the children". Who can say no to the children, they are our future". The town might as well just hand the money over to the people clamoring for it and let them blow it. It would save the excuses and back peddling down the road when it fails. Admit it for what this is: handouts to local groups for votes; the quarter million dollar skate park was such an act. It is not the responsibility for Town Council to play youth strategy coordinators. There are parents who do this just fine.

  • kathy hubbard
    February 18, 2014 - 08:45

    i think a youth center/boys and girls club would be awesome in this town,there are no places that tweens can go and feel like they have a safe fun spot to call their own,instead of sitting home in front of their computers they would actually socialize in person with others their husband and i have a building at the robbs ball park ,which we would be willing to sell to the town if they are interested.this spot nextto the ball fields would be a perfect club house,and the lot next to it would make an awesome playground,which there are none in this end of town,which coincided with the building as a youth center would make alot of kids in town happy.this spot would also be the perfect place for the new police station,having easy access to all parts of town quickly.remember ,if you invest in youth,you invest in the future.