The high school activities room at the Child, Youth and School Services’ Patch Youth Center (the Hub), recently got a facelift. New paint, additional amenities and new furniture have made the room more appealing to the high school students who use it. However, these renovations weren’t just handed to the students, they had to earn them.
After teens had expressed boredom with the decor of the high school room, Doug Barnes, the former Patch Youth Center director, put the ball in the teens’ court by asking them to make things better.
“We had some funds and a chance to renovate the high school activities room here, and I thought, why not let them (students) lead this project themselves,” said Barnes, who contacted Patch High School to see if any of the students were interested in taking the renovations as a project.
Answering that call were 11th-grader Danielle Bair and 10th-grader Ashley Pannaman. The two went to work quickly putting together input from students throughout the school.
“We asked people for ideas on how they would improve the high school activities room at the Hub and we got a lot of suggestions,” Pannaman said. “Some were good suggestions some were … not very realistic; like the one that was very adamant that the whole room have trampoline floors.”
Combining the input from the students and filtering out the less practical suggestions, the pair formulated a plan and a list of things the students wanted for the room and provided that list to Barnes, whose team coordinated getting the items and materials needed for the project.
But the students’ in-volvement didn’t stop with providing a wish list. For these students to get what they really wanted in the room, they had to get their hands dirty — quite literally. Prepping and painting the walls, and making other hands-on renovations were part of the students’ end of the bargain. And the turnout was impressive when Baird and Pannaman put a call out for volunteers.
“We expected maybe a couple of teens to show up to help,” Baird said. “But when about 30 people showed up, we couldn’t believe it. It was amazing. We had everything done in about an hour.”
Painting the walls, bringing in new booths, a new coffee maker, new lamps and other modernizations were just a few of the things this group of student-led volunteers made happen in the room.
“It was really great to see the students get so involved in this project and make the room better themselves,” said Barnes, who is now a CYS Services training and program specialist. “The turnout of volunteers and the end result of all of their hard work were really impressive.”