This After-School Center is By New Haven Teens, for New Haven Teens

Image via mattruffino on Twenty20
Image via mattruffino on Twenty20

What better way to create a recreational, educational space for youth than to give them the responsibility of building it themselves?

That’s what New Haven‘s forthcoming Escape Teen/Drop-in Center thought, too.

The construction and development of the Orchard Street center has created summer employment for a handful of local teens who will also be the benefactors of the final project.

According to NBC Connecticut, the center will be open by the time the new school year starts, and will eventually function as a youth homeless shelter as well.

Video from the construction site, which you can watch here, shows several teens on the job as they get hands-on, real-world experience.

Through job training at Eli Whitney Technical High School, the 10 participating students learn valuable construction skills that’ll hopefully put them on paths toward steady careers.

In the video, Director of Youth Services Jason Bartlett notes that the teens working on the project had previously been failing out of, or not showing up, to school. “We identified those kids and got them on a separate track,” he says.

That new track is certainly motivating, and according to 18-year-old David Stephenson, it’s fun, too.

After all, how did Stephenson feel when he found out he’d have a paid job over the summer? “I was ready that day,” he smiles. “I was ready.”

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