Parents have an answer for teens who say, "There's nothing to do."
The Fulton County YMCA hosts a supervised teen center weekdays from 3:30 to 8 p.m. for members of the YMCA. The Y's teen center also is open to any teen who may be non-members Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Physical Education Director Courtney Wilday said many activities and special functions make the center a popular place to be.
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Erich Hart, 12, of Fonda, plays pool with his friends in the Teen Center at the Fulton County YMCA in Johnstown Tuesday.
"There are games, computers, drawing, coloring, pool, foosball, ping pong...," Wilday said. "We had a party for Valentine's Day and made Valentine's Day cards for the senior centers and adult homes."
Sue Arminio of Johnstown said it was a great program because it allowed non-members to come and see what the YMCA was all about.
"They can interact with other kids and stay active," she said. "And there's always a staff member for supervision."
Arminio said staff supervision weren't just in the area, they interacted with youths who attend so no one is ever without a partner for ping pong or other activities. She said the main advantage of the teen center was in knowing youths were in a safe environment.
"The safety factor is primary," she said. "It's a safe culture for kids."
Arminio said her son Cody, 13, uses the center regularly.
"It's really fun," Cody Arminio said. "There's lots to do."
He said he liked the wide range of activities at the center.
"I like to play pool and ping pong and hang out with my friends," he said.
Arminio said as a parent she wanted to know where her child was and what he was involved in.
"I want to know what my child is doing at all times," she said. "Cody has been involved with the YMCA since kindergarten. They are people I can trust."
She said Cody is now a camp counselor with the YMCA summer camp program
"Cody likes it so much because it is fun and there are people there he knows," she said. "I don't have to worry about him there."
Arminio said parents can be involved with their teens at the center or they can drop them off and know they will be supervised.
Ronnie Dona has both a daughter and son who attend the teen center -Ashley, 14 and Aaron, 8.
"It's a great place to go in and work out," Dona said. "It's nice to have a place like that."
Dona said staff go beyond supervision to interacting with teens at the center so no one feels left out. Dona said she also liked the layout of the new YMCA so different members of a family who were there could be more in touch with one another since everything is on one level.
"When I used to go to the old Y, adults would be on one floor and kids on another," she said. "This way everyone can be in touch and not feel separated."
Some of the teens who attend have informal competitions ongoing with the various games and activities that help add to the experience.
Computers at the center are wired for the Internet, but have protective software to keep youths from accessing inappropriate content, Executive Director Steve Serge said. He said he has had good responses from those who have attended.
"The feedback has been phenomenal," he said.
Board of Directors President Matthew Trainor said the most often heard quote about the new facility was "they didn't think it was going to be this good."
Saturday nights from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. the center is open with about 40 youths attending regularly, Wilday said.
"Teen night is something we've had a long time," Wilday said. "Open teen center times Tuesdays and Thursdays is something we've had since opening the new Y last September," she said.
For more information call the YMCA at 848-3447.
Richard Nilsen is a general assignment reporter and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.