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WARREN At center, teens get attention



Published: Tue, May 29, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The center provides transportation for teens who don't live nearby.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- The experts agree: Staying away from drugs is easier when you have someplace to go.

Add Aaron Davis to the long list of believers.

Two years ago he was walking down Fourth Street, ignoring drug dealers, when he met a recruiter with the Rebecca Williams Center.

"He told me that I could go hang out at the center," said Davis, now 15. "I thought that would be cool. My neighborhood can be tough, and I wanted a place I could just hang out and be away from drugs."

Dreams for future: Davis, a freshman at Warren G. Harding High School, says he has dreams of going to the University of Cincinnati and studying computer technology.

"I knew the drugs didn't have anything to offer me," he said. "The programs here do have something for me."

Aaron, along with about 200 other city teens, takes advantage of the programs offered by the center, which has existed as a community center since 1924, said Jean Forbes, executive director.

"We have educational programs, where the teens spend time talking to group leaders about drug addictions, pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases," said Anita Davis, prevention supervisor.

"We also have tutors here to help students with their homework and a gym where they can play basketball and relax," Ms. Davis said. "Our group leaders talk to the teens and find out their career goals. We also take college tours and inform teens about different vocational careers as well."

Grant-funded: The center, funded by state and local grants, has 30 employees, seven of whom are assigned to teen programs.

Aaron noted that he and his friends live close to the Main Avenue S.W. center and usually ride their bikes or walk to it. For teen-agers who don't live nearby, the center provides transportation.

"There is always someone here to talk to," Aaron said.

Monthly programs: The center also sponsors monthly programs for teens and their families. Community officials are invited to talk to the teens about careers and the choices they make.

The monthly program is open to the public. Refreshments are served.

"We always get a pretty good turnout, which is good because we are always looking for new faces," Ms. Davis said.

"We want the kids in the area to know that we are here."




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