About the Georgetown Youth Community Center

The Mission of the Georgetown Youth Community Center is:

GYCC is a safe and inclusive place where youth are empowered to express themselves, have fun and make new connections among peers and the community. The mission of the GYCC is to empower youth to use their voice and to make safe and healthy decisions. Our goal is to do this by creating engaging, relevant, student-led programming and supports that are sustained through community partnerships.

The idea of having a Youth Center in Georgetown is not new – indeed there have been previous attempts to build a place for our young people to go after school.  But they didn’t survive.

In 2017, Georgetown joined the Essex County Asset Builder Network (ECAB Network).  This Network is a group of six local communities (Georgetown, Amesbury, Newbury, Rowley, Salisbury and Newburyport) who are committed to working together to find ways to support young people and help encourage healthy decision making.  The mission of the ECABN is:

“To use a positive youth development approach to build networks within each community and across the region that help decrease risk behaviors in youth and produce a healthier community.”

One of the first task of the ECAB Network was to conduct a regional survey to measure what protective factors young people had in the region.

While the results did show some positive results, such as 84% of Georgetown youth in grades 6-12 felt they had strong family support, were motivated to do well in school (80%) and had a positive view of their futures (76%), the survey also indicated some areas of concern. Youth indicated that they did not feel connected to and valued by their community. Only 41% of youth said they had a positive adult role model in their life, and only 30% of youth felt they were valued by the community. We also heard anecdotally that young people, especially middle schoolers did not have a place to go after school.  As mentioned above, having a safe space where youth can be supported and surrounded by positive adult role models and have opportunities to explore themselves and their environment is critical for successful development at this age.  With this information, the community of Georgetown committed to finding ways to build skills and positive qualities for their young people, and so concept of the Georgetown Youth Community Center was born.

A series of meetings led by our youth developed the mission and vision of the GYCC – not only ensuring that there was demand for such a place for our young people, but also ensuring that they would take an active role in its development, its programming, and its ongoing commitment to being an asset and a resource to our youth in Grades 6-10.

Research has shown young people need certain qualities, relationships and skills to grow up and be successful.  These can include, but are not limited to self-esteem, responsibility, good interpersonal skills, hobbies, positive adult role models and feeling valued by the community.  The more of these positive qualities young people have, the less likely they are to participate in risky behaviors such drug and alcohol use or violence.

Middle school is often a time of transition, and can be a difficult period for youth  where they begin to navigate the world on their own, and are looking for more responsibility and independence, but do not yet have the cognitive ability to be successful in making choices on their own.  This is also the time when we see youth start to experiment with risky behaviors such as using drugs and alcohol.   By building up these positive qualities or protective factors, during middle school age, we can help youth make healthy choices.

This is why it is critically important to support young people and show them they belong during this critical stage of development.  Typically, there is programming for younger children run by school or after school programs, and at the high school level there are many sports and clubs to get involved with, but many times middle school youth are overlooked at a time when they need support the most.

When asked what middle school youth do with their time, many responded they hang around town at a pizza place or Dunkin Donuts.  They are typically unsupervised and in large groups.  This can be disruptive to businesses and other patrons and not constructive for young people.

Having a place that is dedicated to middle school youth, that is staffed with capable caring adults, who can provide a developmentally appropriate balance of structure and autonomy in a safe an inclusive environment is critical.  The opportunity to explore new hobbies, make new friends, and feel like they have a say, and some control over their lives is crucial for young people at this age.  This in turn helps the community by limiting large groups of youth in public spaces, and also helps to create successful citizens of the community of Georgetown who have the knowledge, skills and support they need to give back and be successful, impactful members of the community.  The Georgetown Community Rec Center would give young people this opportunity.

Furthermore, the development of a healthy community relies on all members of the community feeling that they have a voice and that they matter to the functioning of the larger group. When the town invests time and money into projects it shows those populations that they are cared for.  While the school provides excellent education opportunities for our young people, youth need more than a good education to thrive.  It is the moral responsibility of all community members to care for and foster the healthy development of our young people.

To thank everyone that has helped the development of the GYCC would be impossible, but the effort is important, nonetheless.

The Friends of the GYCC would like to thank:

Our legislators, Senator Bruce Tarr, and Representative Lenny Mirra, along with Selectman Joe Bonavita and School Superintendent Carol Jacobs for their efforts at the state level.

The Board of Selectmen, Parks and Recreation, the Finance and Advisory Board, and Town Administrator Mike Farrell and Town Accountant Mary McMenemy for their effort in helping to navigate municipal government.

The Youth of Georgetown who stood up and not only asked for what they wanted, but also asked to have a hand in the process.  Their efforts have shaped the GYCC.  And the Youth that stepped up and made our summer events such a tremendous success.

Members of the Georgetown community who have donated furniture, equipment, games and supplies for the GYCC.  No one envisioned such a vibrant space would be possible.  Every time the people of Georgetown have been asked, they have delivered!

Our sponsors, including the Crosby’s, the Kiwanis Club of Georgetown, Cafe Sarina, the Cam Come Basketball Tournament and countless other financial (and food!) supporters.  The GYCC is truly defined by a town coalition helping to serve our youth.

The Custodial staff at GMHS.  Their efforts to clean, paint, and organize the GYCC has been transformational.

… and the countless parents, youth, business, and other supporters who have provided additional moral, logistical, financial, and visionary support to help bring the GYCC this far.

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