Since becoming a member of Facebook, it has been interesting to look at the Facebook walls of some of my former students. I like to look at the pictures they have posted and marvel at how much they have changed since Middle School. I also like to read what they have to say. Most of them don't hold back either. They simply tell it like it is, at least from their point of view. I wonder if their parents ever read what they have written. I think they would be amazed at just how mature these kids act and how knowledgeable they are about a lot of stuff. Some good, a lot, not so good.
I am finding that there is one thing that almost all of them have in common. They want to get out of this town. They hate it here. Now I have to ask myself just why this is. No matter where they live, kids always say, "there's nothing to do." Well, maybe our town "fathers" should listen to what our youth are saying.
We have a new "Y." It is a beautiful facility with all the trappings. A huge pool, work out facilities, etc. But membership there is prohibitive. I belong just because they recognize my "silver sneakers" privilege on my medical insurance. But the average teen cannot afford it, nor can their parents.
We have a wonderful, outdoor swimming pool. Well maintained, but overrun with elementary and smaller kids all day long. It has become a "cheap" baby sitting service, and I know that there are parents who drop their kids off there at noon and pick them up when they get off work. Teenagers don't want to hang out there because of the smaller ones, who get in the way and are inconsiderate. Cost is another factor. It's expensive to go with the daily rate, and season passes are expensive, too. And, it closes at 7:00pm. Now, on these hot evenings, who closes a pool at 7:00 pm? That's just plain stupid.
The kids have a skateboarding thing (not sure what it is called) but the people who came up with it, put it in a place that isn't too desirable. And it is not monitored by an adult, so there is an undesirable clientele who hang out there and word has it that drugs change hands there frequently.
We have a beautiful city park. Again, it is designed for the wee folk, and unless you are in little league and can utilize the many baseball diamonds available, the only thing you can do there is hang out and get into trouble. It is not well lit at night, so it closes at dark. Again, it lacks adult supervision on a regular basis.
Our town is blessed with lots of "fast food" places. The kids love to hang out at them, but the owners all have posted the "city ordinance" which prevents the kids from just parking and gabbing like we used to do at one of the filling stations after it closed in my town.
Our sports field where adults and older teens play community service baseball all summer long is half a mile out of town. On a state highway, making it treacherous walking or biking to and from it. It used to have a mini golf, and some other activities available there, but again, the owner priced the games so high, that the kids couldn't afford them, and he finally had to close them down. The ball diamonds still flourish, though.
So, now that I have made a list, not complete by any means, of some of the things available, yet unreachable for most teens, is it any wonder they hate it here, and want to "get outta town?"
I hate to tell them, but they would find the same thing, even in NYC or Chicago. There are things to do there, but they are expensive, or restricted, too.
One of my former students, a beautiful girl of, maybe 15, stated recently on her post, that she wanted to go to Las Vegas and marry a male stripper. Now, I am thinking, that maybe we do need to find these kids more to do with their time.