Went with the Crime Prevention Council to check out the Fusion Youth Action Centre in the small town of Ingersoll, Ont. Absolutely amazing. I wish we had something like this. And the salaries are paid by the town, even though they are going through rough economic times (Though hot dog factory and CAMI plant are now hiring)
The citizens of the town were worried about vandalism, petty crime and the kids having nothing to do. A school with declining enrollment came up for sale and the town bought it. Most of the school is used for the youth with a small area for the VON and seniors. Ingersoll also has a seniors’ centre. Waterloo has a seniors’ centre but very little for youth.
There is a skateboard park outside at the back of the Fusion facility and this time of year the kids are taking balancing lessons in the gym to get ready for the season.
Some of the programs are : TV lounge, art program with emphasis on reuse and graffiti type art, nutrition program with a cafeteria for kids to have dinner, sports and recreation, technology centre, iMAC lab, gaming zone, internet café , state of the art recording studio and authorized e-waste recycling depot for the Ingersoll area.
From website info: youth are encouraged to develop their own business ideas with Young Entrepreneur Program * social enterprises that are being developed are; catering, multimedia, recording and computer service * Cooks in Training * Nutrition Program * Ingersoll Youth Advisory Council * Video Editing Programs * Graphic Design Programs * ReBuildIT Program * Ontario Electronic Stewardship Recycling Program * Open Recording Night * Skate Park * Jam Night
46% of the teens in that 12 to 18 age group visit the center. The director said that crime has gone down so much they think the OPP will need two less officers. Parents like the center because they know that their children will not have good paying manufacturing jobs in the future and this center prepares them for the future.
The center has received money from the auto workers, provinicial government and the federal government action fund. A lot of money.
Having teens occupied in a place with youth workers to talk to, stops them getting into trouble and starting on the downward spiral that ends in a penitentary.