For the past eight years, the West Island YMCA TeenZone was located in a small windowless room in the basement. But recently it was moved to the main floor near the front desk, to a space that is brighter, more visible and much bigger — doubling its capacity from 15 kids to approximately 30.
TeenZones are free YMCA drop-in centres for youth between the ages of 12 and 17 that are open after school every day. They provide a place to play board games, get creative with art supplies, ask for homework help, join in sports activities, learn new skills, or just enjoy a safe space to hang out and meet new friends.
According to Allison Russell, coordinator of the West Island YMCA, young people can play basketball or soccer as well as join discussion groups on drug prevention, bullying and transgender rights. There are also activities such as guitar lessons and cooking classes.
Starting on January 19, the West Island TeenZone will be launching an 11-week Girls Group Program every Friday at 4:45 p.m. that will involve activities and workshops on topics including self-love, peer pressure, body image, bullying and more.
With bean bag chairs and couches, as well as tables, computers, a fridge and a small kitchen area, Russell said the West Island TeenZone suits both kids who are looking for organized activities as well as those who just need somewhere to go after school.
“When there’s nobody at their house, sometimes kids go hang out at Fairview mall or are alone at home,” Russell said. “At the TeenZone, they are meeting kids from other schools, of various age groups and backgrounds, with other interests. They’re also meeting adults who are not their teachers or parents, so it’s a different relationship. It’s a non-judgmental atmosphere and that is very important to them.”
The West Island TeenZone is located at 230 Brunswick Blvd., Pointe-Claire.
For more information, visit ymcaquebec.org.