It’s been said that it takes a village to raise a child, which has prompted Galt resident Sarah McFadyen to pursue the creation of a teen center in Galt.
As a mother, McFadyen believes that limited recreational opportunities has left students idle and led to some youths engaging in destructive behavior.
“I know teens in this community that are addicted to drugs and have practiced cutting themselves, and they are contemplating suicide,” McFadyen said.
Spurred by such experiences, she is taking a proactive approach to providing a place for students to go to escape the pressures and temptations facing teens while building their self-esteem.
“Most teens lack self-confidence, and because they are bullied in school and online, they wake up with no desire to get out of bed in the morning,” McFadyen said.
Research conducted by clinician Ramin Mojtabaiat with John Hopkins University has found that depression rates among U.S. adolescents have spiked in recent years, increasing 37 percent from 2005 to 2014, with 11.3 percent of adolescents surveyed having experienced a major depressive episode in the past year.
“We are looking to get counselors involved in the teen center because they need mentors and people to talk to. Too many students lack adult supervision, or do not have a parent or guardian that they feel they can speak to,” McFadyen said.
“For almost 20 years this town has not had anything for kids 13 to 18 years old, and we need to fix that.”
Officials with the City of Galt have expressed their support for a teen center.
“We are in the preliminary stages of developing a plan for a teen center and we are supportive of the goal to pursue that project,” said Chris Erias, the city’s community development director.
McFadyen has requested that the city donate a building to house a teen center, but there are currently no vacant buildings to fill such a need, Erias said.
“We are still in the beginning of this process. We have not really had an opportunity to dive into the information,” Erias said.
The city need for a teen center was addressed at the March 8 city council meeting, when members of the community expressed their concerns over a lack of programs for students.
McFadyen is in the process of creating a nonprofit and is exploring potential grant opportunities.
“The nonprofit application process can take anywhere from 2 to 12 months. Ideally, I would like for us to get it and start the teen center by the next school year,” McFadyen said. “I am being optimistic about the timeline, but no matter what I am staying vigilant about opportunities that we can utilize once we get going.”
McFayden has actively sought out volunteers to help push the project forward. Her efforts have included creating a Facebook group and establishing a board of directors for the teen center.
“We also want to create a teen council so we can implement a team lead project,” McFayden said.
McFayden’s vision is to create a universal space for students to receive homework help, learn new skills through volunteers that are committed to teaching a class, and a safe space for students to hang out and receive emotional support from counselors.
“We are working on getting a modest game room going with ping pong tables and air hockey, and we are also getting a computer and printer for students that need a quiet place to get their homework done,” McFadyen said.
McFadyen is hoping to create a constructive environment for students that are 13 to 18 years old and make them a priority in the Galt community.