About 275 students have indicated they will probably or definitely attend the Urbana Youth Center when it opens, according to a recent survey of Urbana students in grades six through 12.
The Urbana Youth Center (UYC) conducted this survey with the assistance and permission of Urbana City Schools in November of this year. The purpose was to get an idea of how many students the UYC could expect to serve and what programs kids were most interested in, according to Justin T. Weller, Lead Project Manager for the UYC.
“Before we had even secured a location, we knew that student input would be critical for our project’s success. In late November of 2019, we had informal discussions with a number of students that indicated a youth center was very much needed. This survey we conducted last month not only confirms this, but also shows us just how many students say a youth center is essential to their future success,” Weller said.
According the survey at least 210 kids plan to attend the youth center twice per week or more. When it opens, the youth center plans to offer programming Tuesdays and Thursdays from immediately after school until about 7:30 p.m.
Students at both Urbana High School and Urbana Junior High indicated hangout spaces were the number one program they were interested in. On the high school side, the second most important program was ‘basic life skills.’
“It’s one thing to have data from the Ohio Department of Education that reports 53% of students in the Urbana school district are classified as disadvantaged, but it is even more impactful when 186 kids at UHS tell us that they want help with basic life skills like budgeting, cooking, cleaning, opening a bank account, and so on,” Weller said.
According to the results, about 46% of students are interested in the UYC’s Homework & Study Assistance program (HSA) either in person or virtually. HSA is a planned standing program that will be offered when the youth center is open. The survey also revealed that one of the top five programs students in grades six through 12 most want is assistance with mental health and coping skills. More than 170 kids expressed a desire for assistance with anxiety and depression coping skills at the youth center.
Weller elaborated, “We know mental health is a serious area of concern and the survey reinforces that kids are seeking assistance. As a community, we have a responsibility to address the concerns and needs of our youth to make sure they are in the best position possible to become part of our local economy.”
The Urbana Youth Center is currently planning to open in early 2021 and is located at the former public library – 160 W. Market Street in downtown Urbana. In order to start serving students, a number of challenges still needs to be addressed.
“We are working to bring our restrooms up to ADA compliance and making sure our exits meet building code to provide a safe experience for everyone. Volunteers have been assisting with painting and cosmetic repairs. We are also preparing furnishing for our learning areas. Right now, monetary contributions from the community are needed to make sure we can open with our full line up of programming,” Weller said.
For those interested in supporting the project, Weller suggested people go to UrbanaYouth.Center/donate to volunteer or donate. Alternatively, people may call or text the youth center at 937-772-4022.
The Urbana Youth Center is a project of the GrandWorks Foundation, a local not-for-profit organization championing several efforts to reach, restore, and revive the community, according to the organization’s mission. The projects include the historic Gloria Theatre in downtown Urbana, The Big Questions (a podcast exploring some of life’s most pressing topics) and the UYC.
Information from Urbana Youth Center.