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Teenagers get their hands on $6,000 windfall

Young folks are on a mission to rev up gathering spots at the recreation center and the library.

By MAUREEN BYRNE AHERN
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 5, 2003


SEMINOLE -- Right now the walls in the teen room at Seminole Recreation Center are a dull white. Ugly fluorescent light shines down on a green carpet.

Except for a few items -- a PlayStation video game, a blue and orange bean bag, some board games -- it's hard to tell this is where teens hang out.

But not for long.

Thanks to some fresh funds, teenagers soon will be putting their own mark on the room. A splash of color and possibly a hand-painted mural will cover the walls. Some cool lamps will brighten the space, and new video games will fill a cabinet.

"It's going to be like a club atmosphere," said 16-year-old Matt Lyson, president of the Seminole Recreation Teen Board and a sophomore at Seminole Vocational Education Center. "It's going to be like a second home."

The city's two teen boards -- one for recreation and another for the library -- got a boost last week with a donation totaling almost $6,000. The Seminole Pow Wow Festival Committee donated $2,500 to each board. The recreation board received an additional $990 from a defunct community teen board.

"I thought it was a very gracious gesture and a good sign of things to come for teens in this community," said Michael Bryan, director of the Seminole Community Library.

The City Council created both boards last fall, hoping to get more youths involved in the community. The recreation board is open to students in sixth through 12th grade. The library board also accepts fifth-graders. Members of both boards make up a youth advisory council, which reports to the City Council.

Patricia Ladd, a sophomore in the St. Petersburg High School International Baccalaureate program, has been a member of the library's youth volunteer program since she was 8. Now she heads the library's teen board.

Like its counterpart, the library group also is doing some decorating. But it doesn't have to spend any of its money.

The group has been helping design the youth room at the new Seminole library, which is scheduled to open this summer. The teens have picked out furniture, such as egg-shaped chairs equipped with a sound system.

"We're starting to move into colors, fabrics and carpet," Patricia, 15, said.

The library board has no immediate plans to spend its donation and will deposit it in the bank for now.

Kacy Little, who oversees the youth group at the recreation center, said the teens also will save some but will spend some on field trips, such as an outing to Celebration Station in Clearwater.

Attendance at the recreation meetings varies, but usually about 15 teens show up.

"If I have food, there's more," Little chuckled.

The teen room is open from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

There are five or six ideas for decorating the room, said Felice Scroppo, vice president of the recreation teen board. Teens will discuss them during Thursday's meeting.

If you go

The Recreation Teen Board and Library Teen Board each meet at 7 p.m. the first and third Thursdays of the month. The recreation board meets at Seminole Recreation Center, 9100 113th St., and the library board meets at Seminole Community Library, 9199 113th St. Both groups are seeking new members. For information, call the recreation center at 391-8345 or the library at 397-2112.

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