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    Mayor's Open Schools Programs gains fourth location at the Y

    (7/6/2006) Starting on Monday, July 10, the New Haven YMCA Youth Center will be up and running as the fourth site for the City of New Haven’s Open Schools Program.

    Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. said he is pleased that one week into the Open Schools program, a fourth site has been added. The Open Schools program has already served several hundred teens at three other sites. “We are very encouraged by the excellent response,” the Mayor said. “The City’s efforts to give teens a bright summer are paying off, including a very strong summer for teen jobs.”

    The YMCA Youth Center will serve the needs of local teens by offering free open gym, swimming, and other recreational activities in the afternoons and evenings through the end of the summer.

    The Open Schools Program, a component of the broader Mayor’s Youth Initiative, is designed to serve New Haven’s young people by providing safe, engaging environments for kids aged 12 to 18 at no charge. The program kicked off on June 26 at three New Haven Schools—John S. Martinez, King-Robinson, and Hill Regional Career High School—offering free sessions in martial arts, basketball, dancing, and arts and crafts to any teens who wished to drop in. The Open Schools Program runs from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, and registrations can be completed at the door.

    The New Haven YMCA Youth Center, located at 52 Howe Street, already runs summer programs for the City’s youth, but now instead of closing at its usual time of 5:30 p.m., its doors will remain open until 8:00 p.m. for any 12-to-18-year-old who is interested in recreational activities and workshops. And while the three original Open Schools sites are scheduled to close on August 11, the Youth Center will be open until August 25.

    Youth Center Director Terry McCarthy said that the YMCA is an invaluable resource, and that she is confident it will offer an excellent alternative environment to kids from the different neighborhoods of New Haven.

    “Many of these kids tell me that there’s nothing else to do—that there’s no place else to go,” she said. “The Y is really the place to come, and it helps them stay off the streets. Here, they can be around a positive staff and benefit from a lot of positive adults while being safe and active.”

    At a press conference on Thursday, July 6, a group of New Haven teens employed through the City’s Youth @ Work initiative gave a tour of the YMCA’s facilities. Open to the young people of New Haven for over 70 years, the YMCA includes 10,000 square feet of space devoted entirely to youth programs. This space comprises two gymnasiums, a game room, a tutoring area, and a lounge. Kids will also be allowed to use the YMCA’s locker rooms and pool.

    The YMCA staff will collaborate with Youth @ Work participants to plan and organize the summer’s activities. The Youth Center has emphasized the sense of structure and security it provides to young people: in a recent YMCA survey, over 90% of kids answered that the center was a safe place.

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