A New Youth Program Center Opens in the Bronx
Parents who want better options for their kids this summer may be in luck thanks to a new youth program center that just opened up in the Bronx. The OPTIONS program is using technology to provide teens with unique lessons targeting everything from career skills such as coding and video editing, while assessing their mental health and well-being.
Engaging Teens and Teaching Career Skills
The program started in 2018 in East New York/Brownsville with the intention of engaging teens, giving them alternatives, teaching them career skills and discussing what’s going on in their neighborhoods. Part of the curriculum is dedicated to helping participants understand how to de-escalate and understand their feelings.
Unique Lessons Using Technology
In one particular demonstration, a teen uses a virtual reality screen, but it isn’t just a game. It’s a lesson in decision-making – whether to help a classmate hide contraband at school. Madison Moreno, 19, says this is something everyone should learn. “Learning how to assess a situation, identify my emotions and know what path is the right one to take, de-escalating the situation,” Moreno said.
Curriculum Filled With Self-Reflection
These are the first lessons in the OPTIONS curriculum filled with self-reflection to foster emotional health, followed by lessons in career skills like finance, to creative outlets, like music. The program, which has operated as pop-up sites, uses all-incorporating technology.
New Options Center for Youth Program
The first of several new OPTIONS centers run by the NYPD and The New York City Police Foundation opened Thursday in East Tremont, a part of the Bronx that’s struggled with youth violence. The center is the first space dedicated entirely to the program.
Learning to Cope and Bond
“The fact that they do it with the police officers is a very interesting phenomenon. Because they bond together,” Roberts said. “They see that they experience some of the same feelings and are learning how to cope.”
A Safe Space for Teens
City teens like 16-year-old Jeremy Torres helped design the space. “I know that some kids have no place to go, I know they’re struggling at home, so this center could really be an opportunity and a safe space for them to come be themselves,” Torres said.
More Centers to Open for Teenagers
New centers will also open in Queens and Manhattan in the next few weeks, giving more teens this exciting opportunity. It is exactly what so many families throughout the boroughs have been asking for: a place teenagers can be safe, learn, socialize and have fun, with police officers.