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The city has invested more than $3 million in youth programs since Zanewood went seven days a week in 2009. This year’s budget is $710,829. Staff and programs have increased from 1.5 positions in 2009 to four full-time workers, five part-timers and as many as 40 seasonal jobs, said Michelle Margo, Zanewood’s manager.
Surveys of more than a thousand teenagers showed that participation in after-school activities rose from 26 percent in 2008 to 42 percent in 2012. That’s a 62 percent jump, said Jan Ficken, manager of the city’s recreation programs and services unit.
More than 1,000 teens attend the average of 20 programs a month offered at Zanewood, Ficken said. Another 85 teens on average attend classes offered two days a week at Northview and Brooklyn junior highs. In 2010, the city added open gym several nights a week at the Community Activities Center.
Youth activities include field trips to area colleges and universities to learn what it takes to get admitted, zumba, building birdhouses, photo club, karate and a rock climbing wall. Some of the activities were suggested by youths on Zanewood’s Teen Advisory Board, Margo said.
The students at Zanewood stay busy, said ninth-grader Blunt. Zanewood “can keep kids out of trouble,” he added.
He and Shields said the Zanewood staffers are good role models and talk through problems with them. Shields said staff members helped him calm down when he used to get angry. “Now I chill, relax and get to know people,” he said.
Jim Adams • 612-673-7658