Opinion

Old Fire House Teen Center thriving since ‘92 | Guest Column

The Old Fire House Teen Center’s Derby Days parade crew won “Most Community Spirit” as voted by Redmond Mayor John Marchione. Left to right: Kanon Shibata, Leo Peng, Brynn Ehni, Josef Benzaoui, Jeff White (above), Leo Shibata (below), Eli Brown, Cameron Skaggs, Michael Ng, Justine Dantoc, Collin Whitney, Leandra Shelton and Rana Shmait.  - Courtesy photo
The Old Fire House Teen Center’s Derby Days parade crew won “Most Community Spirit” as voted by Redmond Mayor John Marchione. Left to right: Kanon Shibata, Leo Peng, Brynn Ehni, Josef Benzaoui, Jeff White (above), Leo Shibata (below), Eli Brown, Cameron Skaggs, Michael Ng, Justine Dantoc, Collin Whitney, Leandra Shelton and Rana Shmait.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

When Redmond’s teenage population voiced a strong desire for a space to showcase their talents, the City of Redmond Parks and Recreation department responded with the opening of the Old Fire House Teen Center (OFH) in 1992.

Over the past 20 years, the OFH has evolved into an all-inclusive, positive space where teenagers can mold, shape and create whatever they want.

Martin Berger, a junior at STEM High School and co-leader of an OFH club, shares a sentiment echoed by many of Redmond’s young people: “You can make anything happen here. The staff are awesome and super supportive in getting teenagers to fully think about their ideas and help to turn them into programs or activities.”

Here at the OFH, we pride ourselves on our programming being a reflection of teen interests. When a teen regular who works at Redmond’s Root Beer Store expressed an interest in sharing his knowledge of soft drinks with his peers, the OFH hosted an educational tasting in which he shared more than 15 different brands, providing insider information about each one.

A Redmond teenager interested in Universal Role Playing games expressed an interest in starting a club more than a year ago. With staff support, it has grown into a group with more than 20 members that meet each week.

Local teen musicians with an interest in philosophy came to us with the idea to start a “meeting of the minds” type seminar in which they could use math and logic learned at Redmond High School (RHS) to apply to every day dilemmas. Partnering with staff, they became the Problem Solvers, a bi-weekly group that discussed vast topics from the virtues of what it is to be confident to such important questions as “how should I ask a date to the prom?”

While these are just a few examples of the many instances in which a teen’s seed of an idea has blossomed into something special and meaningful, they provide a glimpse into a fundamental principle in which we are built upon. Teens can create anything.

In the 2012 school year, the OFH celebrated large-scale successes in our partnerships with RHS student clubs. From a packed house for our Just Desserts and Mardi Gras events organized by the French Club, a thrilling Day of the Dead event with Latinos Unidos, to the dragon dances and calligraphy activities of the Asian Student Association’s Lunar New Year party.

Our strong and growing community ties to the high school are a great source of energy and new faces at the OFH. With tremendous support from our city’s departments, government and Redmond residents, the OFH continues to serve our teens as they transition into adulthood. For a tour or more information, contact Program Coordinator Rana Shmait at rshmait@redmond.gov or (425) 556-2371. Check out our website for updates: www.Redmond.gov/teens.

 

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