New teen club makes mark in Naples
NAPLES, Italy — Ten months after opening, the Naples Youth Activities facility has won accolades from the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.
The organization presented the center with the Navy Partnership Award for Europe and selected a Naples teen from among more than 100 worldwide for a music-making award.
“We wanted to recognize those clubs that had really excelled in starting and expanding their Boys and Girls Clubs programs on the bases,” Teresa Quinn-Vesely, a Boys and Girls Clubs spokeswoman, said in a telephone interview from Atlanta.
In March, Youth Activities moved from three rooms at the Gricignano support site to a spacious facility with separate areas for teens and younger schoolchildren.
The Youth Center side has playrooms for kids to romp around in. At the Teen Center, students can shoot pool, watch movies and participate in arts projects.
“If they didn’t have [the teen center], people would go out of their minds” from boredom at the isolated support site, said Richard Cody, 16, a Naples American High School junior from Bethesda, Md.
Using a music-making computer program at the center, Richard created an instrumental song for the BGCA Digital Arts Festival. Last month the mellow song titled “Rain” won first place over 110 other entries and earned him the opportunity to visit the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland in the spring.
In addition to Boys and Girls Club programs, Teen Center employees have come up with plenty of their own ideas to entertain teens, said center director Carl Cardenas.
There are about two day trips a month, such as whitewater rafting, and the teens have a monthly “open mic” night in which they showcase talents such as singing and dancing.
About a dozen students who belong to the center’s Keystone Club, a community-service-oriented group, are making a reality show called “A Day in the Life of a Teen.” Freshman Corey Jenkins and others have filmed about three hours of footage around the school since October.
Corey, 14, sat in the center on a recent night, laughing with his friends over clips of fellow students talking about what life is like for Naples teens. He said he likes to go to the center after basketball practice because “going to the crib is boring.”
The Youth Activities facility offers plenty of activities to keep kids occupied, said Nina Correa, Boys and Girls Clubs representative for the teen center and Keystone Club adviser.
“I really believe when children hit that preteen and teenage years they need to stay busy,” she said.