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Teens need more to do

Loveland manager wants youth center, seeking volunteers

Published: Friday, March 29, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, March 29, 2013 12:08 p.m. CDT
Steve Wilson, executive director of the Loveland Community House.

DIXON – Steve Wilson found a headline and column in the Dixini, the Dixon High School newspaper, troubling.

The headline read: “Places to go and things to do – not so much.”

In the column, student Trevor Mixen wrote: “Dixon is an interesting place with so much to do and places to go. The only students that say that are usually being sarcastic.”

Wilson, building manager at Loveland Community House and Museum, thinks it’s time for the community to do something about Mixen’s claim.

“He’s right, there’s nothing for teenagers to do in this town,” said Wilson, who often ushers teenage skateboarders off Loveland property. “Nothing is geared toward them. They need a place where they can do their thing.”

Wilson wants to see the community build a youth center.

What that might incorporate? He’s not sure.

What he does know is that he doesn’t want it to be something bogged down by government.

“We need to make a board of adults and youths to get this thing going,” Wilson said. “We’ll start a 501(c)3 [nonprofit organization]. Anybody who is interested can contact me here at Loveland.”

Lee County State’s Attorney Anna Sacco-Miller said she supports the idea, listing several possible benefits to the community.

She said a youth center could be used for foster parent visits, keep middle school and high school students off the streets or out of juvenile courts and possibly entice families looking to relocate to Dixon.

“I’ve been wanting to do something like this for a long, long time,” Sacco-Miller said. “There are many kids who are too old for day care, whose parents aren’t around, and they are getting into trouble because they get bored or there’s nowhere for them to go.

“The idea is to give them a safe place with adult supervision to go do their thing, do homework, or hang out. ... We’d rather take a proactive approach. We want to stop them from getting into trouble, before it happens.”

Wilson said there are several grant opportunities available, once a board is formed.

Sacco-Miller said something as simple as a board of adults and youth working together to create a hangout supervised by adults with music or games could make a difference.

Wilson’s dream would be to build a recreation area, cafe and indoor/outdoor skate parks, but he understands the project will depend on the amount of interest shown by the community. He has a location in mind but said it was too early in planning to share.

“When I read that the best hangout for kids is Walmart, I think we have to start doing something,” Wilson said.

In Mixen’s column, he wrote “Adults are always complaining about kids getting into trouble and having to make new rules for them, but when a teenager is trying to do something when they are bored and they have nothing to do, then they are obviously more likely to get into trouble.

“Who can say they haven’t been kicked out of Walmart for playing hide and seek?” he wrote. “We don’t need another controversial dance club or anything, but just a hang out spot for students to go to and interact with other students.”

Wilson is ready to accept that challenge. He wants to know who in the community is with him.

To get involved

Adults and teens interested in forming a board of directors to start a nonprofit organization aimed at creating a teen center can call Steve Wilson at Loveland Community House and Museum, 815-284-2741.

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