Idaho Falls teens can find fun and support at new teen center
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IDAHO FALLS — Local teens have a new place to hang out after school where they can be safe and have fun.
Becky Leatham has been working with teens over the last 17 years. A year and a half ago, Leatham and a group of local teens started Community Youth in Action, a 501(c)(3) non-profit. They recently realized their goal of starting a teen center in Idaho Falls.
“We went to the senior citizen’s center and the city of Idaho Falls and talked to them about a partnership. And they approved it,” Leatham told EastIdahoNews.com. “The senior citizens use it during the day. The teenagers use it every night.”
Leatham is the executive director of Community Youth in Action.
After school, teens can go to the Idaho Falls Senior Citizen Community Center at 535 W. 21st Street. Teens who are part of Community Youth in Action decided to name the youth center housed inside, the LIV Teen Center, which stands for Life is Valuable. The name is also an homage to one of their founding youth members, Olivia “Liv” Johnson.
Teens can go to play games, such as pool, foosball, ping pong, darts and more. They can also get tutoring from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday from local college students. Community Youth in Action offers a variety of different weekly classes and activities. It is all free.
“When CYA approached me and asked about a partnership, I became very emotional at the possibility of making this happen. I can’t think of a better way to utilize a building owned by the local taxpayers,” Idaho Falls Senior Citizen Community Center executive director Valisa Say said in a news release.
Leatham said any middle school or high school students in Idaho Falls School District 91 can arrange to ride the bus to the teen center after school.
With a donation of a 15 passenger van from Idaho State Independent Auto Dealers Association, Sexton’s Car Collection and Alphagraphics, Community Youth in Action can give rides to and from the center for teens outside of District 91 or who otherwise need a ride.
“We have tons of adult volunteers that are here. They’re all background checked,” Leatham said. “That’s probably one of the greatest things that we can provide is good healthy adult mentors. So the kids can come after school, and there are adult mentors that they can talk to.”
Leatham said one of Community youth in Action’s major goals is to help prevent teen suicide. To do that, they are providing a space for youth who need it.
“Sometimes, a kid just needs a place to belong. And they just need to know that there’s a safe place that they can go and hang out and have people that care about them,” she said.
For anyone interested in learning more about the teen center or Community Youth in Action, go to the Community Youth in Action – LIV Teen Center Facebook page.