Volunteers needed to help implement new ideas at Pratt Teen Center

Courtney Blankenship
Pratt Tribune
Restructure brings opportunity for new ideas and community involvement with Pratt Teen Center.

The Pratt Teen Center is seeking community support and volunteers for the coming year to help implement the new ideas and schedule changes being discussed.

Derese McAbee, president of the Teen Center board, said last year was a learning experience for the board of new members, and this year will be more of an opportunity to restructure and bring new ideas to the table.

“It’s such a great building, and the place is great, so if we’re just using it from 3-6 p.m. for kids to hang out, it’s not being used to its full potential,” McAbee said. “People still rent it for birthday parties and stuff and graduation receptions, and that’s great, but I want more of that.”

The Teen Center is currently closed and will not open this summer, but this could change in future years, McAbee said, as the board has been discussing the logistics and cost of keeping the facility open during the summer and other times when it would be normally closed.

“So, that’s also where we need more volunteers and more community buy-in,” McAbee said. “It is our community investing back into our community.”

Last year, the Teen Center board applied for and received a 2019 Community Grant for $668 from the South Central Community Foundation to purchase musical instruments for the Teen Center.

Misty LaChance, former treasurer of the Pratt Teen Center Board, said the idea to purchase instruments was an initiative to provide a comfortable space for teens to get involved and learn music or use the space to practice music learned in school. After completing all of the grant paperwork, LaChance worked to locate the best prices, find information, and order all the items.

“We had written it [the grant] for musical instruments because we had started a musical room there at the Teen Center to help promote musical therapy or get all the teenagers different opportunities to explore different things,” LaChance said. “We had pianos in there, we had purchased a keyboard, guitar, music stands, we had a drumset donated so we could purchase some books on how to play piano.”

LaChance said that one of the more popular purchases with the grant money has been a karaoke machine and CD’s for teens to sing their favorite songs.

“All the kids have loved it, and they can actually tap in their phones to the Bluetooth with it and then sing with it,” LaChance said. “So, you know, they’re discovering some hidden talents, I guess, there.”

The instruments and karaoke are also available to be used by those who rent the Teen Center for various events and gatherings.

Bringing tutors to teach instrument lessons during certain days of the week, is another idea that has been discussed in order to keep the youth engaged and channeling their energy into creative outlets. The goal, McAbee said, is to create a space where all youth feel welcome and comfortable.

In a collaborative effort between the Teen Center, the library, Youth Core Ministries, Jack’s After School Program, and Rolla-Rena [Skate Center], McAbee said the organizations meet once a month to discuss how they can help and support each other with events.

“I feel like if we were able to get more volunteers, then we wouldn’t have to worry as much about the money of it,” McAbee said. “It’s people investing time into the kids of the community.”