Activities we support

The Youth Commission acts an advocate for the youth of our community. As such, there are numerous activities we support to allow the youth to flourish and grow. 

The Barn Teen Center

Most commonly referred to as “The Barn”, this venue is owned and operated by the Town of Ridgefield, the Barn serves as a local teen center that engages kids from ages 13-17 in a variety of after school activities. The Barn is located at 10 Governor Street (in the Veterans Park Elementary School parking lot).

The Barn Teen Center has been available to all Ridgefield teens free of charge for 18 years. It serves as a second home for many, where high schoolers gather with friends and engage in unstructured activities, such as pool, arcade or video games, cooking, drawing, participating in Magic Card and Yu Gi OH tournaments, Friday night Rock Houses, Open Mic nights, and Lock-ins. Director Linda Caponetti describes the teen center as a “safe, fun, and comfortable haven for our teens.”

The Youth Commission renovated interior of The Barn during the fall of 2011. Check out pictures of the renovation on our Facebook site, here.

The Barn is open to all high school students. Hours are as follows:

    • Wednesday 2-6PM

    • Friday 2-10PM

    • Saturday 2-6PM

Graham Dickinson SPIRIT Skate Park

The Graham Dickinson SPIRIT Skate Park gives skateboarders and inline skaters an exciting street course, lessons, rentals, parties and summer skate camps. For over 14 years, the park has drawn skaters from around the area looking to have fun and learn new moves and techniques. The park has offered training and employment opportunities for Ridgefield youth throughout the years. Instructors are on staff to help toddler through teens get comfortable on their skates or boards and learn how to “ride” the park.

Our skate park provides a rare opportunity for young people to congregate and socialize in a safe, friendly, and supportive environment while engaging in active, outdoor recreation in a personal best type of sport with no timetables or pressure to win or succeed. This inclusive and noncompetitive environment encourages creativity and friendship, and breeds the confidence and enthusiasm that carry over into other areas of life. 

An exceptionally friendly staff, reasonable prices, and skating opportunities for everyone make the Graham Dickinson SPIRIT Skate Park the most enduring town-run skate park in the area, and a model program emulated by many other municipalities in New England.

Yes-2-Youth

Yes 2 Youth is a “brain child” of the Youth Commission. It began as a movement of sorts, to rally the community to support our youth. Yes-2-Youth currently supports the Barn teen center, Inside Out Players and the Graham Dickinson S.P.I.R.I.T. Skate Park, through our fundraising efforts we hope to be able to expand this support to more youth movements.

The Barn teen center, est. 1994, and Graham Dickinson SPIRIT Skate Park, est. 1998, have been filling voids for Ridgefield youth for many years. They provide the “perfect fit” for many young people by offering programs and philosophies that reach beyond the traditional, embracing diversity, inclusion, tolerance and respect. Both facilities contribute recreation, unique events, and a supportive social community, as well as guidance, leadership training and employment opportunities for hundreds of Ridgefield youth each year.

Inside Out is a high school improvisation group focusing on important teen issues. The skits can be both humorous and dramatic, but all topics are always handled with sensitivity and skill. This year, the group will open for the Bullying Series at the Ridgefield Playhouse.

What better way to say Yes-2-Youth? We are proud to be a part of the youth-serving network of programs in Ridgefield.

The 1st Annual Fundraiser was held in February 2011 at the Community Center and was a success.

The 2nd Annual Fundraiser was held on February 16, 2012, again at the Community Center. Live entertainment was provided by ‘Tyrtle’, a rock band composed of some RHS students and recent graduates: Scott Wilson (acoustic), Jack Rodamer (bass/drums), and Jeff Allen (guitar). For pictures from our 2nd Annual Fundraiser, taken by Lexi Lynch, check out our album on Facebook.

The 3rd Annual Fundraiser is scheduled to be held on Thursday, April 11, 2013 at the Ridgefield Community Center. Please join us for hors d’oeuvers, a silent auction and cash bar as we raise money to support the Barn Teen Center, Inside Out Players and the Graham Dickinson SPIRIT Skate Park. These local gems have been filling voids for Ridgefield youth for may years. They provide the “perfect fit” for many young people by offering places and programs that reach beyond the ordinary, with recreation, unique events and a supportive social community. For more information on this year’s event, you can view the invitation and response card or visit the Yes-2-Youth website. In addition to donations and attendees, we are looking for auction items for our silent auction and for event sponsors.

Guiding Teens to Help Their Peers and Overcome Two Common Fears Preventing Teens from Speaking Up

Sourced from: https://speaksobriety.com/newsletter/

By Stephen Hill, J.D., January 4, 2022

Over the past six years I have shared my story and message with thousands of students across the country. One of the most common questions I get asked: 

How do I help a friend I am concerned about who is using drugs and/or alcohol?

I always answer this question thoroughly with a step by step guide to best help a peer heading down the wrong path of substance misuse. However, I learned that just answering this question alone is sometimes not enough because of two common fears preventing students from speaking up that must be addressed.

In this article I outline a step by step guide to talk with a peer heading down the wrong path of substance use, explain two fears preventing teens from speaking up to adults when necessary, and offer ways to help teens overcome their fears.

Guide for confronting someone about their substance use:

  1. Pick a time and place for a serious, in-depth conversation in a peaceful environment without distractions or interruptions.

  1. Give your friend the benefit of the doubt by first speaking to them one on one when your friend is sober. I have found that the initial conversation is best done one on one because people—especially teenagers—act and talk differently when they are in groups.

  1. Always come from a place of care and concern. I once had a therapist call it a “carefrontation.”  Do not judge or attack someone as that will only make things worse. Gently ease into the conversation and give specific examples as to why you are concerned.

  1. Give your friend a chance to respond and be an active listener when they are talking. Listening closely to what they are saying will help you get a better understanding of their mindset.

  1. If the conversation ends on a positive note, talk about the next steps you can take to help them such as speaking with a counselor and being a positive support for them. If the conversation ends on a negative note, do not get discouraged, do not give up, and remember it’s not your fault. Try and revisit the conversation again at a later time.

It is hard enough for a teenager to make the mature decision to confront their peers about substance misuse. But the next step is when things can get even tougher and fear really sets in.

  1. Wait and see. If your friend makes positive changes and stops using substances, then that is an amazing accomplishment and you should feel very proud for taking the initiative to help another in need. 

However, if the person does not change their behavior, things are likely to get progressively worse. This is the point where teens need to make an even more difficult decision—do you just stand by and watch it happen because “I tried talking with them. There is nothing more I can do,” or do you tell a trusted adult who is in a position to intervene and potentially get the person the help they need? It has to be the latter.

Fear sets in

I have been at this exact point with many students after an assembly or breakout session. I have found that most students are open to speaking with their peers about their concerns, but when I talk about speaking up to an adult (e.g. parent, counselor, teacher, principal, coach) some students get quiet with a fearful, uncomfortable look on their face. Here are the reasons why:

  1. Fear of damaging the friendship

  1. Fear of being labeled a “snitch” or “rat” 

How to inform and educate students to overcome these fears

If a student is concerned about damaging their relationship with the friend they are trying to help, let them know that being a true friend sometimes requires making hard decisions. Prepare students for a negative response and reinforce that their friend’s response is out of their control. The friendship may suffer in the short term, but the hope is that it will make it stronger in the end.

If after speaking to an adult your friend’s response is something like, “How could you tell on me like that? I will never trust you again!” then your response should be, “I spoke up because I am your friend and I am very concerned about you. I tried talking to you one on one and nothing changed. I did not speak up to hurt you, I did it to help you. I hope one day you will understand that.”

I recommend first speaking to a school counselor, student assistance counselor, social worker, or psychologist because they must keep certain communication confidential. It is vital to keep reminding students about the confidentiality of their conversations with certain professionals and what the exceptions are (i.e. intent to harm themselves or another).

If a student is concerned about being labeled a snitch or a rat, explain that a snitch is someone who tells on other people just to get themselves out of trouble or get someone else in trouble. Conversely, if you speak up with the motive to help someone you are concerned about, that certainly does not make you a snitch—it makes you a courageous person trying to do the right thing.

Shortening the timeline because of fentanyl

The landscape of addiction prevention and treatment has changed because of fentanyl, an extremely powerful opioid that is causing mass overdose deaths throughout the country. A few weeks ago I spoke at Jonathan Dayton High School in Springfield, New Jersey. During the Q&A a student asked, “What should I do if I am concerned about a friend who is at risk of overdose?”

A few years ago my assumption would have been that this student’s friend is using heroin. However, today, that is no longer the case. Now everyone who uses drugs is at a higher risk of overdose because fentanyl is being found in all kinds of drugs. For this reason, early intervention is more important now than ever before.

I am here to help

Hurt people hurt people, but healed people help people. I am here to prevent people from getting hurt and help heal those who are hurt so they can carry the message to others in need. If you want to learn more about my programs or would like a PDF copy of this article, please click the link below.

Contact Stephen

Other Programs

- Alcohol Awareness Month Fridge Campaign

-Project Resilience

-Ridgefield Remembers

-Veterans project

-Compassionate Ridgefield

 
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