Getting Teens off the Streets Park Districts Lure Kids with Creativity, Planning

By Gutowski, Christy | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), April 30, 1997 | Go to article overview

Getting Teens off the Streets Park Districts Lure Kids with Creativity, Planning


Gutowski, Christy, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Christy Gutowski Daily Herald Staff Writer

It seems simple enough.

Teenagers like to hang out with their friends, and they want some freedom.

But ask any adult who's ever tried to plan a fun-filled day for their finicky teen, and you'll probably hear: forget it.

Now imagine that's your job. No thanks, right? Well, park districts throughout DuPage have gotten creative in hopes of luring that difficult age group off the street and through their doors.

The secret, say the experts, is in the asking.

"As old fogies, we don't always like what they like," said Mary Defiglia, recreation supervisor at the Glen Ellyn Park District. "So, we let them do the planning."

Many park districts work with schools to form committees of teens who come up with activities. In Glen Ellyn, a group of students from Glenbard West and Glenbard South high schools proposed a Battle of the Bands.

In addition, 40 to 50 teens are painting a mural to be displayed at the train station.

"The focus (of the mural) is on living life well. It depicts drug-free and alcohol-free activities to do in town," Defiglia said.

In Naperville, a Junior Leader Club was formed last fall in which 12- to 15-year-olds help district instructors and learn how to teach youth programs. The intent is to get the teenagers ready for the work force, teach responsibility and, of course, have fun.

Special teen clubs in which friends tell other friends about what's going on at the park district also offer success.

In Wood Dale, the club Students Unite for Recreation on Fridays takes part in activities such as Game Night, where tables for pool, electronic hockey and table tennis are moved into the gym for their enjoyment.

"Basically on weekend nights that age group is looking for something to do," said Karin Liska, recreation supervisor of the Wood Dale Park District. …

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