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July 13, 2008

Bored teens have no excuses now

No school doesn't mean nothing to do on a Friday night.

No school doesn't mean nothing to do on a Friday night.

Friday Night Hangout, northwest Charlotte's teen hot spot, is open for the season.

Each week, the McCrorey Family YMCA on Beatties Ford Road stays open until midnight and invites youths up to 17 to come in and swim, play games or just hang out.

Makisha Duncan was one of the first in line on opening night.

“I just came because I didn't want to be in the house,” said Makisha, 14. “I like to stay in the dance room and dance.”

That's typical, said Trevor Beauford, youth minister at neighboring Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. He leads the hangouts with Y community development director Kareem Boykin.

During the school year, teens tend to attend ball games or other school events. The hangouts help fill the void during the summer, offering a social alternative to the same old TV shows or the lure of clubs or street corners.

“It gives kids a place to go,” Beauford said. “There are dangerous places they can be, with people who don't necessarily care about them.”

At the Y, the focus is on safety and respect. Kids who hang out can't wear overly baggy pants or too-tight clothes. Cell phones are checked at the door. Fighting and profanity will get them thrown out.

Some grumble about the no-cell-phone rule and the Christian music choices, yet they come back year after year. They say a night of food, dance and socializing beats sitting at home.

Angelica McClure and Mecedez Stroud hung out at the Foosball table as pizza and soft drinks were served opening night.

“We have a good time, talk, play games,” said Angelica, 14.

“No drama. No problems…” said Mecedez, 15.

“…and boyfriends,” adds Angelica.

About 90 teens turned out for opening night June 20. Once word gets out, attendance in subsequent weeks typically reaches 325, Boykin said.

Most of the more than 30 adult volunteers come from Friendship, the program's partner, to chaperone, run activities and mentor. Boykin has expectations for them as well. He wants each adult to know at least five teens by name by the end of the summer. The goal is for mentoring relationships to extend beyond Friday nights, which he has already seen happen.

“It has a very positive impact for the kids,” Boykin said.

“If everything's going crazy out there, they know they can come here or to the church.”

No school doesn't mean nothing to do on a Friday night.

Friday Night Hangout, northwest Charlotte's teen hot spot, is open for the season.

Each week, the McCrorey Family YMCA on Beatties Ford Road stays open until midnight and invites youths up to 17 to come in and swim, play games or just hang out.

Makisha Duncan was one of the first in line on opening night.

“I just came because I didn't want to be in the house,” said Makisha, 14. “I like to stay in the dance room and dance.”

That's typical, said Trevor Beauford, youth minister at neighboring Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. He leads the hangouts with Y community development director Kareem Boykin.

During the school year, teens tend to attend ball games or other school events. The hangouts help fill the void during the summer, offering a social alternative to the same old TV shows or the lure of clubs or street corners.

“It gives kids a place to go,” Beauford said. “There are dangerous places they can be, with people who don't necessarily care about them.”

At the Y, the focus is on safety and respect. Kids who hang out can't wear overly baggy pants or too-tight clothes. Cell phones are checked at the door. Fighting and profanity will get them thrown out.

Some grumble about the no-cell-phone rule and the Christian music choices, yet they come back year after year. They say a night of food, dance and socializing beats sitting at home.

Angelica McClure and Mecedez Stroud hung out at the Foosball table as pizza and soft drinks were served opening night.

“We have a good time, talk, play games,” said Angelica, 14.

“No drama. No problems…” said Mecedez, 15.

“…and boyfriends,” adds Angelica.

About 90 teens turned out for opening night June 20. Once word gets out, attendance in subsequent weeks typically reaches 325, Boykin said.

Most of the more than 30 adult volunteers come from Friendship, the program's partner, to chaperone, run activities and mentor. Boykin has expectations for them as well. He wants each adult to know at least five teens by name by the end of the summer. The goal is for mentoring relationships to extend beyond Friday nights, which he has already seen happen.

“It has a very positive impact for the kids,” Boykin said.

“If everything's going crazy out there, they know they can come here or to the church.”

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