How Have Libraries Served At-Risk Teens in Your Community?

Our topic is ‘how have libraries served at-risk teens in your community?’

We want your personal stories of how a library/library worker has positively influenced an under-served teen or group of teens in your community.

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I'm writing from the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library. I am in the Outreach Department, and we have two programs that serve at-risk teens. 

1. We currently hold twice-weekly bookclub meeting with separate groups of incarcerated teens at the Neaves-Davis Center for Children. The Neaves-Davis Center for Children is a 48 bed juvenile detention facility operated by Madison County in accordance with licensing standards set forth by the Alabama Department of Youth Services.  The NDCC serves as a secure detention facility for delinquent juveniles detained by court order pending court hearings or acceptance in to rehabilitative treatment programs. 

Book club is for male and female inmates and covers a range of reading abilities. It's a round-robin style read aloud program and book/life discussion program, and has been in place for several years.

Teens in the Changing Directions program take part on Tuesdays and A-Pod offenders attend every Wednesday. 

2. The Oscar Mason Young Ladies Association. This is an eight week summer program now in its tenth year, currently through the Outreach Department of the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library. Headed up by Shaquila Willie and her assistants, the group teaches the girls, ages 12-17, some of what they'll need to know in school and in life. 

The young ladies of OMYLA have been treated to a make-over donated by a stylist; a gym workout session; a cleanup task in their neighborhood, and a volunteer project at the Downtown Rescue Mission.

They've learned to write a resume and dress for an interview. They've had health and nutrition lessons from the county extension agent; they've seen what lungs look like after smoking (disgusting, they all agree), how to make a nutritious smoothie (easier than it looks, they all agree), and they've had a chance to role-play situations that might come up in their new school. They've learned how to listen to that inner-voice, the one they've tapped into for eight weeks, that says you are somebody, and you can say no to drugs, pregnancy, to wandering the streets or breaking the rules. You can do the right thing, even when people around you are tempting you to do the wrong thing. From (

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