The Teen Zones at the Windsor Public Library (WPL) recently breached one year in operation, and according to participants and a staff member, things are going well.
“It’s a place where kids can relax, have a snack afterschool, enjoy fun, and interact with other youth that they normally wouldn’t interact with,” explained Mary-Lou Gelissen, a Public Service Librarian at the WPL. “It’s a central meeting place to find materials, it’s the largest library youth zone in the city, and it encompasses graphic novels, magazines, and the largest young adult collection in the city.”
The Teen Zones were branded initially according to press release as a “cool place to spend time after school…an area dedicated to teens, providing a causal, relaxing and safe environment for them to socialize and interact with their peers.”
Each Teen Zone is supplied with Netbooks, internet access, video game consoles, board games, and in addition, “home work help will be available and educational, entertaining and informative sessions to assist teens in making career decisions and encourage continued education, will be scheduled.”
Gelissen explained that in her year of operating the Teen Zone, she has yet to receive any complaints other than the fact that youth want more services provided to them “which I think is positive. They don’t feel like we have enough…things are wearing out because they are so popular.”
Mohamed Abedella attends Kennedy Collegiate Institute and he explained that he enjoyed taking part in activities at the WPL. “It’s quiet, it’s fun, you can do homework, and they help you with what you’re struggling on…if we’re struggling they ask us if we need help.”
Houda Abdulahi-Mouhamed who attends Dougall Public School and tries to visit Teen Zone everyday of the week echoed the sentiment and explained that she most enjoys “being around new friends. The Teen Zone members help you in any situation, such as homework, or a [conflict] with your friends.”
Teen Zones are part of an expanding list of services offered by Public Libraries and Gelissen explained that the majority of larger cities offer a dedicated youth space because youth “require the mediums that a library offers. Children and young adults are thinking individuals and they need that stimulation.”
Grade 12 Assumption College student Victoria Parent hopes to be a journalist when she grows up and she stated that attending the Teen Zone has helped her to hone her communication skills. “I like talking to people, exploring places, and talking things out because I’m a very curious person. [At the Teen Zone] I’ve learned how to be more open to people and how to talk to people better…I’ve learned how to improve my writing skills [as well].
Jonathon Liedtke is the Features & Opinion Editor for the University of Windsor Lance Campus/Community Newspaper and a reporter for ourWindsor.ca. As a founding member and current Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee, he is committed to representing, connecting, engaging with and advocating for local youth. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.