Liberty Township teen center gives students a place to go after school

LIBERTY TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- It can be hard for teens to find things to do after school. 

"It's really hard to get teenagers to come to an after-school program," Brenda Yabolnsky said. 

But after nearly 10 years, they've figured it out at the EDGE Teen Center in Liberty Township. Yablonsky is the executive director. 

"Our motto is, 'Make it fun so they will come,'" she said.

The center is open to teens in grades nine through 12. About 100 students do come each day, mostly from nearby Lakota East Freshman and High School. 

"I think it's just a fun place for everyone to hang out and meet new people and become friends," 10th-grader Alana Blankenship said. 

There's a lot for them to do: basketball, video games, snacks and just space to chill. 

"They have found EDGE to be their place where this is their after-school activity," Program Director Annie Droege said. "This is the place that they find their friends."

The teen center isn't just fun and games. It's also a place where the students can get involved in the community.

"It gives students the opportunity to get service hours," Yablonsky said. "But then you get all the other benefits that come with community service."

It costs students $75 a year to participate, but the fee is reduced to $50 if they meet volunteer requirements. 

There are also volunteer tutors and mentors on hand, giving students a chance to develop professional and leadership skills. 

"We take an idea from scratch and build it up into an event," Blankenship said. 

Organizers of EDGE think it's a successful model. They want to try it in other communities.

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