The Hartland Teen Center, Next Door, officially opened Oct. 1 and with two new directors in place, the center has already seen a steady stream of repeat customers.
The center is located in the former Hartland Township building and available to Hartland students in grades 7 though 12. New directors Nicole Cawthra and Cortney Pronishen say they are excited for all the "new faces" and potential the center will provide the group it serves.
According to Cawthra, the first week brought approximately 16 to 20 students on a regular basis, with positive reviews so far from the students attending.
“It is popular with the boys,” Pronishen said. “We have a couple a girls, a couple strong girls, and they are recruiting.”
Both directors, who are graduates of Howell High School, have extensive educations and backgrounds in working with teens and say they are committed to having the center be a "teen-driven" environment.
Cawthra, whose husband is a youth pastor for a local church, has worked with teens on a volunteer basis for the past seven years. She said she has a “positive relationship” with the age group.
“I like working with them,” Cawthra said. “It’s a time when you’re finding yourself.”
Pronishen, who graduated from Eastern Michigan in April with a degree in special education and emotional impairments, completed her student teaching at Hartland Middle School, where she became familiar with many of the students from the area.
Providing a safe space for the teenagers was important for Pronishen, who says she remembers leaving the school last year and seeing students "hanging out" with no place to go.
"There was nothing for them to do, so even if they come in for 15 minutes, they're still able to do something," she said.
For Jacob Orlando, an eighth grader at Hartland Middle School, having the new center is "awesome" and having a space to come to after school to play video games with friends is important.
And although Jacob says he is excited to see the teen center grow with more people and new ideas, for now "it's better than riding the bus."
To create a trusting and safe relationship with their teen clients and parents, Cawthra and Pronishen say there is an open door policy at the center and that already they have seen great support from the parents involved.
Students must have a permission form completed by a parent to attend Next Door, which is open Monday through Friday 2:30 p.m. - 6 p.m. Forms and other information about Next Door can be found on their website.
Next Door Teen Center Wish List
- Egg Timer
- Dish Towels
- Paper Towels
- Tall Bar Stools for computer room (4-6)
- Decorations (seasonal or just home décor)
- AA Batteries
- WII Games (any games rated E or T)
- DVD Movies (Rated G, PG, PG-13)
- Dry Erase Board Erasers
- I- Home
- CD Player
- Felt tips for cue stix
- Billiard chalk
- Volleyball net with poles (lawn)
- Coffee Maker (10-cup)
- Cases of assorted soda
- Cases of assorted candy
- X-Box 360 (or any)
- Donations for Minecraft software (it must be purchased online)