Supporting Youth Success in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region
The pristine beauty of New Hampshire's Lakes Region and its numerous tourist attractions can easily overshadow areas of rural poverty and our most vulnerable residents. Around 75-80% of Kingswood Youth Center's (KYC) youth are living at or below the poverty level, and some students come to the Center with distressing details about the challenges they face at home. The free meal that every youth receives when they enter the Center is sometimes their only meal outside of school that day. The staff and crew of long-term volunteers at KYC have dedicated themselves to improving the lives of these kids. They not only provide thoughtful programming and activities but also a home away from home.
Granite United Way is excited to see that its Central Region volunteers selected Kingswood Youth Center to receive a 2018 Community Fabric grant to support the Center's "Beyond the After School" program. This program serves youth beyond typical after-school hours and is open during vacations, weekends, evenings, and holidays. As one of the only free resources dedicated to the region's 12-18-year-old youth, these extra hours of support ensure that these kids are not stuck in unsafe or unsupervised environments; and with its long list of planned hikes, day trips, science projects, cooking lessons, and different skill-building activities, Kingswood Youth Center sounds like fun.
To celebrate their last day of the 2017-2018 afterschool program, youth, staff, and volunteers gathered for a final barbeque at the KYC, which is located in a renovated barn and farmhouse. The Center has developed into a supportive, tight-knit community of over 300 kids in the Ossipee and Wolfeboro area. During the end-of-the-year barbeque, each youth shared what they liked best about the Center, which included anecdotes like "I get to socialize with my peers, eat great food, and learn new things," "Zachary and Mara [KYC staff]...are like family to me," and "I get away from all the chaos at my home." The KYC supports what many of us already know: having safe, organized, and caring environments for youth is essential within communities. Extracurricular activities, like what is provided by the KYC, increase self-esteem, develop life skills, and improve youth behavior.
If you would like to support the Kingswood Youth Center, here is their wish list:
• Volunteers and materials to help build a new bike rack
• Bike locks
• Food donations
• Paper goods
• Updated computers and technology
Don’t forget to check out the Center’s blog here to see photos from all of the fun activities from the last school year.