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.