New teen center opening on Catawba reservation

dworthington@heraldonline.comOctober 15, 2013 

Zikeria Shannon, Tyler Lyons and Talathia Homes assist the All-Star flag football club from the Fort Mill club before a game Tuesday. The three are part of a program at the Boys & Girls Clubs of York County's Teen Center which teams them about responsbility while the are paid as refereees.

DON WORTHINGTON — dworthington@heraldlonline.com

— The Catawba Indian Nation and the Boys & Girls Clubs of York County are opening a new teen center on the Catawba reservation.

The partnership will allow Catawba teens not only to learn job skills, but to share their heritage with other York County teens, said David Carriker, chief professional officer of the Boys & Girls Clubs.

Catawba teens will spend three days at their own center at the reservation’s Senior Center and two days at the Rock Hill center at the Flexible Learning Center off Flint Street Extension.

The new teen center – set to open in January, after students return to school from the long holiday break – will be paid for by a three-year, $500,000 grant from the Justice Department’s Tribal Youth Program. About 75 percent of the grant will be used for programs, Carriker said.

Other Indian nations have partnerships with Boys & Girls Clubs, he said, but the teens usually stay at one center.

The grant application grew out of conversations between Carriker and Catawba Chief Bill Harris. They talked about serving more teens, about celebrating and learning about Catawba heritage and job skills.

“The Boys & Girls Clubs provides a proven model of reaching the youth of today and helping them become productive adults with bright futures,” Harris said.

The tribe recognized that some of its members between the ages of 19 and 25 needed help with their job skills and some lack a high school diploma, tribe spokeswoman Elizabeth Harris said.

The Catawbas have several job training programs with existing businesses, she said, but this is the first with a nonprofit group.

The grant is designed to help at-risk youth “stay out of trouble, stay in school,” she said. “This will open up the world to our teens.”

The existing Boys & Girls Clubs teen center offers job training and academic assistance, Carriker said, as well as activities – “there still has to be fun.”

The Boys & Girls Clubs will hire four people for the Catawba Teen Center, which is projected to serve about 50 teens, Carriker said.

“But we’d like that to be more.”

Don Worthington 803-329-4066

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