Crooks’ Lessons Learned At Los Alamos Youth Activity Center Drives Mission To Give Back

Kids pose at the desk at the Los Alamos Youth Activity Center. Courtesy photo
 
By DANA CROOKS

I am currently a sophomore at UNM studying psychology, statistics and criminology. Since I am passionate about kids, especially the trouble makers, my ideal occupation is juvenile delinquent rehabilitation.

As a result, I started to consider Los Alamos Youth Activity Center. The Los Alamos and White Rock centers have provided a safe, fun, and free environment for kidsi in third through eighth grade since 1982. The AC was an influential part of my childhood. I spent endless amounts of afternoons and summers playing games, making arts and crafts, and socializing with other kids and great adult role models that we all looked up to.

This last summer, I got the wonderful opportunity to work at the AC. I experienced the other end of things, and now I was the role model that these kids looked up to. Through an amazing summer of games, secrets, movies, field trips, and being thrown back into a time where “cooties” were still a serious hazard, I fell in love with the work and absolutely adore the kids, even the troublemakers.

Though it was tons of fun, I think my most important job was listening. A lot of these kids did not have strong adult role models in their lives and rarely had someone to confide in. I took the time to learn each and every one of their names and stories, and it made me realize how important programs like these are for youth.

Such support is especially important for kids who do not find it elsewhere. The Youth Activity Center runs on rules and regulations that help introduce young kids into responsibility. For example, each kid is given a card that is almost like an ID and credit card. They must sign in and out each day, and may trade in their card for various games and equipment. If they break any rule, forget to sign in or out, or do not turn equipment back in, there are various consequences. I remember how important and responsible I felt holding my very own card.

Unfortunately, because the AC has remained a nonprofit organization, the program runs on little funding. I noticed that many of the games are missing pieces and that a lot of the equipment is damaged. Without the AC, I truly believe that I would not be who I am today, and so, I would like to give back this holiday season. My mission is to raise money and collect donations in order to provide the center with new games and sports equipment. Let’s keep these kids active, happy, and out of trouble! Anything helps. Other donations such as old toys, Legos, coloring books, board games, sports equipment, helmets, etc. are also welcomed and appreciated!

To donate:

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