New Innovative Programs Coming to CA’s Youth & Teen Center
Peace circles, mentorships and a pilot violence prevention program are just a few of the awesome initiatives kicking off this winter at the Youth & Teen Center.
It’s all thanks to CA’s exciting new partnership with Columbia Community Care (CCC), which is focused on bringing new, impactful programming to young people in the community.
“Partnerships are an integral part of how we show up for our community,” Youth & Teen Center Manager Rene Buckmon said. “I know the addition of CCC programming will expand our ability to meet Columbia’s youth where they are and help them in meaningful ways.”
CA’s Youth & Teen Center, located at The Barn in Oakland Mills, is home to a wide variety of programs. This includes a daily drop-in program where teens and pre-teens have a safe and welcoming place to go after school, plus activities like cooking clubs, art classes and leadership development opportunities.
The Youth & Teen Center also partners with organizations like 4H, the Howard County Public Library System, the Howard County Police Department and NAMI Howard County to bring STEAM programming, chess tournaments and mental health discussions to the facility.
CCC was founded during the pandemic, primarily to address food insecurity and poverty issues. Since its inception, CCC has grown from food pantries to provide a wide variety of resources, services and programs across Howard County. That includes some of the innovative programming the group is bringing to the Youth & Teen Center, starting in January 2023.
One of the group’s winter food distribution centers is located at The Barn, opening its doors every Saturday to serve those in need. CA is already partnering with CCC to bring a volleyball clinic to Supreme Sports Club. In both locations, leaders hope to reach young people they haven’t been able to.
“One of the biggest obstacles for organizations that are providing programs and direct services to the community is to make sure that we have the space to do so,” CCC Founder Erika Strauss Chavarria said. “We are super grateful for the partnership with Columbia Association and the opportunity to be here at the Youth & Teen Center because we know having a space like this allows us greater access to the young people that our programs are meant for and their families.”
One of the programs CCC plans to bring to CA’s space is the P.U.S.H. program, which stands for Perseverance Until Success Happens. P.U.S.H. is a pilot violence prevention program designed to follow the lead of the young people it serves by providing a space to gather, have access to resources that meet them where they are and guide the pathways to overall well-being. P.U.S.H. is currently being run out of the Bain Center in Harpers Choice, but its creator and Wilde Lake High School alum Saquan Maxwell sees the potential the new location at the Youth & Teen Center offers.
“Being at The Barn will not only provide us with an incredible space, but also a chance to reach new kids,” Maxwell said. “It’s a space to be themselves. That’s the most important thing. That, and bringing a renewed sense of kindness to the community.”
CCC will also bring its Community Mentorship and Fellowship program, Restorative Peace Circles and a Cultural Imperative Program to the Youth & Teen Center.
“Programs like P.U.S.H. are meant to give our young people a space to just be themselves, to feel affirmed and uplifted, to embrace their power,” Strauss Chavarria said. “They already have that power within them. We’re here to provide a space and an opportunity for them to embrace that power and understand how to use it in positive ways.”
“This is about creating a space where the next generation can come and understand how to apply themselves to the world,” Maxwell said. “We’re truly taking the lead from the kids and teens who come in and participate. One day we could be in a circle having a group conversation. The next day, there could be a yoga class. Another day, we could be playing video games. The value is in creating that consistent, authentic bond and making sure these young people know there are many different paths to success.”
How to get involved
The Youth & Teen Center is located at The Barn at 5853 Robert Oliver Place.
The P.U.S.H. program is scheduled to start at the Youth & Teen Center in early January. All Howard County teens and preteens are welcome to attend.
Food distribution takes place from 10am-12pm on Saturday mornings out of The Barn.
The Community Mentorship and Fellowship program – focused on serving young men of color – begins in mid January and will take place at the Youth & Teen Center every first Sunday of the month thereafter.