The number of students at Lakota’s Edge Teen Center volunteering for community service work is up, say officials with the Liberty Township after-school club. The center, which is next to the Lakota East High School campus, serves teens throughout the Lakota school system.

Lakota teen center sees jump in community service

The Edge Teen Center — located next to the Lakota East High School campus — is seeing an increase in the number of teens volunteering for community service work after school hours.

It’s a welcomed trend, said the center’s Executive Director Brenda Yablonsky.

“EDGE just completed our seventh year of our community service program to record numbers. A total of 399 teens participated during the school year and through end of this summer. They provided a total of 4,190 hours or service to the local community — a 12 percent increase over the prior year,” said Yablonsky.

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The teen center is across Wyandot Lane from Lakota East but is open to youth throughout Lakota Schools.

Open since 2009, the after-school center provides a supervised facility where teens can relax on couches, study their homework at tables, belly up to a non-alcoholic beverage bar, shoot pool or work on their video game skills in a separate area designed for gamers to compete as teams or individuals.

Or, as many teens do, spend some time socializing with friends while waiting for their parents to come give them a ride home.

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Giving back to the community is increasingly a popular activity among the members, said Yablonsky.

“I think the increase is happening for a couple reasons. Awareness of this free service continues to grow. We’ve also moved to an online sign-up system which makes it easier to coordinate and schedule a large number of teens around their busy schedules,” she said.

“Lastly there’s increasing interest in service learning among local teachers, so we’re being asked to partner with other teachers as well. For example, some English teachers at Lakota East now build service projects into writing assignments,” she said.

“It fills the gap between the curriculum needs of students, and the volunteer needs of organizations in the community. For example, students in American government classes in Lakota are required to perform 15 hours of community service. Also community service hours are required for students in National Honor Society at both the high schools and junior high schools in Lakota,” said Yablonsky.

Lakota East government teacher Tisha Grote said the center “is the only volunteer organization providing van transportation to and from volunteer activities nearly every day of the week (except Friday and Sunday). EDGE serves the volunteer student population who cannot drive because they are too young or cannot afford to drive.”

Yablonsky said “the long-term benefits of volunteering as an adolescent are numerous, with positive outcomes lasting into adulthood.”

“Studies show that teenagers who volunteer are less likely to become pregnant or use drugs. Instead, they are more likely to have positive academic, psychological, and occupational well-being. Additionally, adolescents who are involved in community service are more likely to have a stronger work ethic and to volunteer as adults,” she said.

For information, visit the Edge Teen Center’s website at edgeteencenter.com.

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