TULALIP – Every parent worries about their kids. On the Tulalip Reservation, that extends to their entire community.
The young kids have the Youth Center and Boys and Girls Club. But what about the teens?
On Wednesday, the tribe broke ground on a new Teen Multimedia Center attached to the Boys and Girls Club that they hope will open by summer.
“The teens are our most-needy group of people” here, said Natasha Fryberg, who opened the ceremony and said a prayer to guide and protect youth.
Bill Tsoukalas, executive director of the Snohomish County Boys and Girls Clubs, said the 4,000-square-foot center will have all the “bells and whistles to attract the kids’ attention,” such as lights, music, videos and computers.
“Social media is big for the kids,” tribal council secretary Bonnie Juneau said, adding that it needs to be used in positive ways.
Tulalip council Vice Chairwoman Teri Gobin said the facility will help the teens “stay out of trouble and be involved.” She added teens will be able to participate in tribal projects through the media center.
Club director Mark Hatch said, “Everybody in the community will benefit from this.”
Tribal council member Les Parks said in usual Tulalip tradition they “talked to death” the project for three years, but now it’s finally here. “It was a tough hill to climb,” he said.
Parks thanked all of the people who pushed for the project. “It’s being done for all the right reasons,” he said.
Tribal council member Marlin Fryberg said the facility will help a lot of kids, especially those from broken homes. The Boys and Girls Club helps raise those kids, and now they can help them when they reach their teens, he said.
Fryberg added many people think the tribe is rich, but there are still kids who need things, like food.
Shephard Little, who works at the Boys and Girls Club, said the center will be an awesome addition because it will help develop role models. “They have so many resources,” he said of the tribe’s youth.
Tsoukalas said boys and girls clubs all over are expanding to include usually separate facilities for teens so they can feel safe and stay on a path to graduation and community service. Tribal elder Don Hatch said he’s pleased about the center. But he’s already pushing for the next thing he wants to see for the tribe – a swimming pool.
Diane Prouty, the club’s administrative assistant, also it happy to have a teen center. She cares for the kids from ages 3-12, and while a few hang around after that many move on and she worries about them. She said some go to the Youth Center, but it has limited hours. “It’ll keep teens off the streets,” she said of the new center. “We can stay in touch.”