Empowering Our Teens rec program involves teens in positive activities

Kayla Garrett

Empowering Our Teens rec program involves teens  in positive activities
April 28
13:10 2021

Kayla Garrett has always had a passion for helping others. As part of the Therapeutic Recreation Unit, Garrett is tasked with providing programs throughout the community in the rec centers and one of the programs, Empowering Our Teens, was a big hit with parents and kids.

Empowering Our Teens is a program for teens at the W.R. Anderson Recreation Center that Garrett coordinated with W.R. Anderson Senior Supervisor, Bryant McCorkle. With the program being a success, Garrett plans to use this model at other recreation centers around the city to involve more teens in positive activities.

“The teen program came about when I was helping lead their summer camp of 2020,” Garrett said. “We were just talking about how the teens are going through a pandemic and how they don’t have anywhere to go after school, so me and Mr. McCorkle just sat down and thought of some ideas for the program.”

Garrett is a Winston-Salem State University graduate and has been with the city’s Recreation and Parks Department for two years. She felt the program would get a good turnout at W.R. Anderson because the center has a great partnership with the surrounding community.

“I expected a good turnout because our recreation centers don’t have a lot of teen programs, so I felt like once we reached out to them, besides going to the basketball court or park, it would be a good turnout,” she said. “I want to say we had 30 teens registered and consistently were filled to capacity each time.”

They held an event for teens every two weeks from 5:30-6:30 p.m. The most impactful event was the canned food drive they held. The teens collected over 600 pounds of canned goods that were donated to Second Harvest Food Bank.

The last day for the program will be May 4 and they will hold a cookout to celebrate the success of the program.

“We are trying to have different schools and colleges come out and have vendor set ups for the kids to visit, especially since a lot of schools are not doing school tours,” she continued.  

Garrett reached out to the kids who were in the summer camp at the center, but also went out into the community and knocked on doors to bring in more children. She plans to partner with McCorkle once again in the fall to put together another teen program once the 2021-2022 school year begins.

“I plan on bringing it back in the fall and have more times and dates to allow more teens to come out,” she said of her future plans. “I know some kids had sports and were not able to make it out to some of the dates, so I just want to give them more options to pick from.

McCorkle says he hasn’t had a teen program at the center in years and will continue to assist Garrett in any way he is needed. He says she has brought him “new energy” to make sure the teen population of the center has options, just like the youth and older adults.

Garrett says that McCorkle has given her a lot of support with the program. Because he has a great pulse for the surrounding community, he was a great resource to figure out what events would work best for the teens in the program, she said.

“He has always been a supporter of me and when I give him ideas, he helps me push it,” she said of McCorkle. “He was kind of like a mentor for me when I came into the rec. When I gave him ideas of what I want to do in the rec centers, he always pushed me and said I could do it, so I am glad we had that successful outcome.

“I always have big ideas, but I always hold myself back from them. But having someone else in my corner saying, ‘give it a try’ is always a big help.”

Parents and teens in the program were eager for each event, said Garrett.  She stated the parents were grateful to have a positive place for their children to go, instead of doing something that was nonproductive.  

“I know it’s hard on teens right now, especially with them doing virtual learning and not being able to go and socialize with their friends,” she continued.  “It’s always good to help others and I know it’s hard on teens right now.  It’s stressful for them and a lot of times they are overlooked.  With some preparing for college, it’s good to give them another outreach on their resume.”

As part of her duties with the Recreation and Parks Department, she works with Special Populations that focuses on working with those with disabilities.  Her goal is to bring more innovative programs to the department to serve all populations.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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