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COFFEEHOUSE FOR TEENS MAY BE TRIED IN THE FALL

As Cheektowaga starts focusing more attention on its youth and giving them the positive support needed to make good choices, some teenagers are asking for a place to "hang out."

"We brought teens into our last meeting. They would like to see a teen center in town," said Council Member Alice Magierski.

The teens attended a meeting of the Cheektowaga Task Force for Healthy Community -- Healthy Youth. The group, made up of representatives from the town and school districts, is working to bring in many sectors of the community.

"The purpose of the task force is not to make any dramatic changes, but to take it a step at a time," Magierski said.

Part of the framework of the task force is to listen to youth, and when they said last month they wanted a teen center, adults were listening.

Magierski said the task force hopes to get students together this summer to plan a pilot program. Town officials think that it might be possible to run a temporary coffeehouse as a pilot program for several weekends this fall.

"It's hard for them to understand these things have be structured," Magierski said of the teens. "There are no plans for a teen center at this time. We are responding to their call."

Magierski said officials would monitor the response to the temporary coffeehouse.

She said developing developmental assets such as community support for teen ideas is part of the mission of the task force. Forty developmental assets have been identified as being important to youth development. The assets are "essential building blocks," such as relationships, experiences and opportunities that young people need as a foundation for growing up, Magierski said.

By increasing communication among groups in the town, the task force hopes to help the entire community.

An informational meeting on the task force and the developmental assets will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Cheektowaga Senior Center, 3349 Broadway. The task force has invited businesses, faith-based groups, taxpayer organizations, youth groups, PTAs and others to learn more about how to offer Cheektowaga youth a sound foundation.

e-mail: bobrien@buffnews.com

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