Posted by Travis Silvas | The County Journal | Charlotte, MI
The name captures the intent perfectly — Crosswalk Teen Center. Founder Rick Todd envisioned opening a facility that could safely bridge the gap between school and home for teens, a safe place for kids to “come, learn, be and do.” A crosswalk is intended to provide safe passage. So far Crosswalk Teen Center has done the same for a number of local teens.
Todd and a few CTC board members shared some of the facility’s accomplishments with members of Can Do! Wednesday, Oct. 22 as hosts of its monthly meeting. Included in the presentation were stories of how Crosswalk Teen Center has helped bridge the gap between the community and residents of the Eaton County Youth Facility, whom are working their way through the juvenile justice system.
The partnership started early in the process when Youth Facility staff member, Jason Beam learned about Crosswalk Teen Center from CTC board member Cindy Hosek. Beam, who takes many of his residents on community service projects every Saturday morning, offered to help with renovating the facility.
“I saw the resources he could offer me, and the kids that I could offer here,” Beam said. “Coming on Saturday mornings and helping clean the facility is really how we got connected with Crosswalk.”
From there, program opportunities opened up to the Youth Facility residents. They recently joined local students in participating in PhotoVoice — a project that allowed participants to share their view of their community or environment through photograms and observations, statements, or poems.
“PhotoVoice gives young people a chance to express thoughts they want to convey to the community,” said Hosek, who led the project for Crosswalk Teen Center. “The kids could come up with a phrase or poem, what they wanted to say to the community, and take a photo that expressed their idea, or they could take a picture and come up with a phrase that fit.”
Twelve kids participated in the project, which hangs on several walls within Crosswalk Teen Center. The photos and their accompanying phrases were included in the Oct. 22 presentation. Some of the phrases included: “Life is too short to make the wrong choices, so make the right ones for you;” “The sky is the limit so soar to new heights;” “Love and appreciate your family because one day they may be taken away;” “No matter what life brings, always hold on to your friends;” “Taking one step at a time makes life a lot easier;” and “Learn to appreciate the smaller things in life.”
Austin, a participant in the Eaton County Youth Facility’s day treatment program, helped present the PhotoVoice submissions to the Can Do! membership. He also talked about working with Crosswalk Teen Center in a number of other ways.
“We see Crosswalk as a definite tool for our kids as they transition out of our program,” Beam said.
Kids from day treatment have participated in cooking classes and friendly competitions. They participate in team building exercises and continue to help around CTC.
“It’s fun to see kids take ownership of this place, it becomes their place,” Todd said. “In some cases, this has been their chance to try things they’ve never done before.”
Educational opportunities have been offered to a number of local students as well, in a wide variety of areas. The four focal points at Crosswalk, though, are educational opportunities, every day life skills, community connections and expressive art.
“There are some kids that come to play foosball and hang out with friends, but there’s a lot of kids that get involved in doing things,” Todd said. “We have a variety of kids participate, pertaining to what the programs are.”
Todd said CTC is about letting teens be teens, learn some things along the way and try to keep them as safe as possible.
For more information about Crosswalk Teen Center, call (248) 987-8336 or visit www.crosswalkteencenter.org.