One group is seeking to bridge the gap between teenagers and the rest of the community.
NaperBridge is wrapping up its first year as a not-for-profit providing teens with special events catered towards them.
“We want to be a welcoming, safe place for Naperville teens to belong, to play, create, to lead and to be empowered in a values-driven environment,” said Andy Jack, the group’s Executive Director. “So our vision is that we would have a downtown location as a physical hub for teens to call their own.”
And now that vision can now become a reality thanks to the city council which voted to let them use the building at 321 Washington Street as that hub.
“Many years ago, people used to sit on the Naperville Bridge rail because they didn’t have a place to go,” said Councilman Steve Chirico. “So now times have changed and they’ve sort of lost that hang out spot so this is great. We’re happy for them.”
Until now, NaperBridge barrowed the barn at Knoch Park for special programs, like a student DJing competition and teen band show. The group’s ten-student advisory board takes ideas from the larger teen population and turns them into events.
Moving forward, they’ll have a space all their own in the heart of downtown for activities, fostering a sense of belonging within the community.
“I thought it really tackled the problem of when teens have nothing to do when they’re bored so they just do bad stuff sometimes,” said Max Biel. “This gives us a place to hang out and just be safe and a good thing for teens and the community in general.”
And being on the advisory board also gives teens like Austin Hansen, the chance to learn valuable life skills.
“I’ve gained leadership skills, communication skills, planning skills, for use in everyday life,” said Hansen. “School’s great but the skills I’m learning, unknowingly and subconsciously learning, I can use in everyday life.”
Until their new home is reconditioned for use, NaperBridge will host two more events at the barn, a middle school dance on October 5th and a high school dance on October 19th.
To register for an event or for more information, visit www.naperbridge.org.
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