New LightHouse program attracts teens

SONY DSCShamonie Jones has been attending the LightHouse after-school program for as long as she can remember.

Even as a senior, she loves the program but ROTC and other extra-curricular make it harder for her to attend.

This year, with a grant from the Major League Baseball Players Trust, she can stay connected through the new LightHouse Teen Club. The Club meets twice a week later in the evening to provide high school students with academic assistance, community service, and just a safe place to hang out.

“It helps me with school and it’s a place to get away from school at the same time,” Shamonie said.

Twice a week the teens gather in space designated just for them. Sounds of Xbox bounce off the bright green walls, while two girls sit in one corner and do their nails. In another room, a student microwaves some Ramen noodles another gets help on a research paper.

“It’s a good environment,” junior Derrick Ealy said. “We go help people and get to know people.”

The program is led by Britney Waters, a recent college graduate and LightHouse alumnus. She tries to plan at least one activity each time they meet and then have free time.

SONY DSCFor the teens that have stayed with the LightHouse, nearly all stay in school and avoid teen pregnancy and the juvenile justice system. With Teen Club, the staff hopes to continue those results with more kids.

“The most important thing is they have a support system,” she said. “They can get their homework done and meet people who are into positive things.”

Waters continually emphasizes goal setting for the teens. A bookshelf holds study guides for the ACT and books on choosing careers and colleges.

Community service was one of Waters favorite memories of the LightHouse and she now requires it for the participants of the Teen Club.

If it wasn’t for the LightHouse, Shamonie isn’t sure where she would be.

“I know I would be behind my peers,” she said.

Once she graduates in May, she plans to enlist in the Air Force, but she encourages her younger friends to seek out the LightHouse.

“It’s a good way to meet new people and learn new things,” she said. “It’s good just to get out of the neighborhood.”

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