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New recreation program focuses on opportunities for teens

11/10/2019 6:00 AM |

Teenagers in Southold will have new recreation options this winter thanks to a program formed by the town’s recreation department and youth bureau.

Several teen “drop-in” nights have been planned for youth in sixth through ninth grades in an effort to provide something to do in the colder months.

They will be held at the town’s recreation center on Peconic Lane and will feature a range of activities including billiards, ping pong, movies, board games, crafts and guest speakers.

The first is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 13 from 7 to 9 p.m. and additional programs are slated for Jan. 10 and March 6, said Janet Douglass, the town’s recreation department supervisor.

The program is free, but requires a signed permission slip to attend, she said.

Youth Bureau director Lynn Nyilas announced the program with along with Ms. Douglass at a work session Wednesday.

“I’ve heard anecdotally from adults that remember going to the rec center as teenagers to their drop-in nights and have fond memories of it,” Ms. Nyilas said. “They’re now looking for their kids to have the same opportunity.”

Ms. Douglass said that while there are plenty of opportunities for summer recreation, there isn’t much to do in the colder months.

“Kids want to be social, but there’s no real safe place in communities for kids at that time, especially on a Friday night,” she said.

The program is modeled after similar programs offered in Riverhead and Southampton towns, which have been successful. Their goal is to bring different school-aged populations together and promote positive socialization.

“[Kids] are often at home playing video games in their rooms by themselves,” Ms. Nyilas said. “[Socializing] is super important. It’s a skill that’s definitely lacking.”

She said the two departments have been eying a partnership for some time because “we feel there’s more we can be doing and should be doing as a town.”

Together with county officials, the town is exploring options for eventually providing transportation to youth to attend the evening program, though Ms. Nyilas said the conversation is ongoing.

A full list of the recreation department winter programming and youth bureau events will be available Thursday, Nov. 21 with the release of the department’s winter brochure. Programs include adult basketball and volleyball programs, a revived youth basketball program and arts classes.

Photo caption: Recreation department supervisor Janet Douglass and Youth Bureau director Lynn Nyilas at Wednesday’s work session. (Credit: Tara Smith)

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