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Coalition opens lounge to give teenagers a safe space

Stephany Outerbridge, left, and Denae Burchall, right, help open the Teen Lounge in Hamilton to give children a space to find assistance and time away from home (Photograph by Sekou Hendrickson)

A lounge has been created for teenagers looking for help with school or time away from home.

The Teen Lounge, created by the Coalition for the Protection of Children, is offering a space for youngsters to study, seek counselling or help build friendships with other children.

The lounge will also offer a Suspension Programme, where pupils who have been suspended from school would undergo counselling to tackle the root of the problem.

Denae Burchall, a programme coordinator at the lounge, said the lounge would give children a safe space to seek any form of help they needed.

She added: “A lot of children believe that their parents just don’t understand, so fostering a space where they can come together and learn new strategies to work with their children is one of our goals.

“Once school kicks in, we’ll get more into the one-on-one coaching.”

Ms Burchall said the lounge would offer several different “restorative conferences” where children could sit down with counsellors and other parties to resolve a conflict.

She added that an employment assistance programme would also be available during the day to help parents and teenagers find work and improve their resume-building skills.

The lounge opened on the first floor of Cedarparkade House on Cedar Avenue, Hamilton, after the CPC hosted a soft launch last Monday.

Five children attended the launch, as well as CPC staff and Stephen Corbishley, the Commissioner of Police.

The Teen Lounge comes equipped with computers and recreational equipment, such as a pool table, as well as food, refreshments, free toiletries and access to assistance programmes.

Ms Burchall said the CPC put the lounge together after they spoke with several teenagers last October about what they thought would best help them and other children.

She said many youngsters wanted a space away from school or home where they could relax or take care of school work.

Stephany Outerbridge, the lead programme coordinator for the Teen Lounge, said it was important for the after school programme to open up during the summertime to keep children occupied, particularly those who could not get a summer job.

She added: “I have a teenager – I get the parents’ point of view and I get the teen’s point of view – and I think being available to open up a safe space for teens is really important to give them a voice.”

Mr Corbishley said spaces such as the Teen Lounge created healthy environments for youngsters who may be vulnerable to dangerous situations.

He added: “Some young people are in environments – not of their own choice – but have challenges and it’s only right that groups get together to try and help them get on the right path.

“My job is to make sure young people don’t get into the criminal justice system and the way in which we do that is through partnership.

“If we get it right for the young people of today then we get it right for the adults of tomorrow.”

Sh’nade Akinstall, 18, who works with the CPC as part of a summer internship programme, said children could appreciate the lounge because it was a space away from home and school.

She said: “It’s somewhere for children to go if they want somewhere to do their homework or get help.

“It’s also very comfortable and cosy.”

The CPC plans to host several family events over the summer, including movie nights and a bowling night, to help build relationships between family members and with the families themselves.

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Published August 05, 2021 at 7:56 am (Updated August 04, 2021 at 8:20 pm)

Coalition opens lounge to give teenagers a safe space

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