The latchkey kids of the '80s are raising over-parented children involved in sports, music lessons, scouts, religious classes and plenty of extras. But not every working family can provide these programs for their tweens.
What adolescents do in the downtime between school dismissal and 8 p.m.—and often later—is a focus of the White Plains Youth Bureau (WPYB), which runs the Eastview Teen Lounge, a supervised setting with computers, video games, a place to do homework and structured activities.
The lounge is open to all White Plains students in grades 7 to 12 but used predominantly by seventh and eighth graders, said WPYB Director of Neighborhood Services Gina Covington.
Participants gain the confidence of knowing "they have someplace fun to go and engage with peers" and their parents "find comfort in knowing this as well," Covington said in an interview.
Free transportation from Highlands Middle School is provided by van to the Teen Lounge which is located next to the Youth Bureau on Amherst Place, giving youth there the benefit of access to an entire staff of "people trained to work with youth."
Covington joined the WPYB staff recently, taking over for the former director, Adrienne Rivers who retired.
There are plans, she related, to incorporate pop-up special programming like Double Dutch, the Spoken Word, Natural Hair (styling), Drones and various other workshops run by community members.
The Youth Bureau is also looking into opening a second teen lounge at a different location—the community room of the former McKinley Avenue School, now condominiums—on January 11 in the new year.
The youth who frequent the Teen Lounge often don't have their own computers or video games at home and enjoy having access to those as well as being with their peers, according to Covington.
Another advantage of going there after school, she continued, is being able to easily transition to either the Open Gym, which is staffed with coaches for sports including basketball from 5 to 8 p.m., or the fitness room, which is also staffed with a boxing and fitness instructor from 4 to 8 p.m. in the WPYB.
For information about the Teen Lounge, call Gina Covington at 914-422-1378.