Allen Buansi, member of the Chapel Hill Town Council, said the purpose of the report is to have some feedback from teenagers on a few different issues, including the future of the Teen Center.
“From what the Town staff gathered and its focus group of teens, it seemed like there were a number of teens that did not know about the Teen Center, didn’t know where it was and teens that did know where it was had some concerns about its condition,” Buansi said.
“There have been some discussions about possibly creating a new Teen Center, but Town staff really won’t get into details about the Teen Center until the next stage where they are actually getting feedback from teens on their ideas about spaces.”
Beth Vazquez, town manager of the Ombuds Office of the Town of Chapel Hill, said the town council can better understand the lives of youths of different backgrounds by asking them questions and receiving feedback.
“We set out to learn more about the experiences of youths in Chapel Hill, so we weren’t specifically asking them programs about what they want — we were asking them more who they are, what kinds of places do they visit, where did they feel safe, who did they spend time with, what are their goals in life, whether some of the challenges that they identify is barriers to reaching some of the goals," Vazquez said.
Sarah Viñas, assistant director for housing and community for the Town of Chapel Hill, said mental health issues were another theme that emerged from the focus group.
“Another thing striking was that young people we’ve talked with spoke about mental health challenges and the pressure that they face in school to succeed and how that concept attributes to things like anxiety and depression and sometimes low self-esteem,” Viñas said.
By implementing programs and collaborating with other organizations, members of the council said they strive to create a safer, youth-friendly environment for Chapel Hill.
Upcoming collaborations with youth-focused organizations include the annual LIGHTUP with the Chinese School at Chapel Hill and the Chinese American Friendship Association, which will focus on aspects of Chinese culture, including dances, art and food. The event is on Feb. 24 at 11 a.m. in downtown Chapel Hill.