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Teens Learn to Grow at the Easton Center

EASTON, Conn. – Living in a rural town such as Easton, it is easy to see why so many teens complain that there is nothing to do for fun. Many head to Fairfield to go to the movies or to Trumbull to go the mall.

“I don’t really think there is a lot of fun stuff for them to do, but that is why we have this program,” said Billy Barrett, director of the After School Program at the Easton Community Center.

Pushed back in the woods on Sport Hill Road, the community center offers supervised programs for middle school teens, including using the climbing wall, playing basketball, make tie-dye T-shirts, going to dances, taking field trips or listening to their peers play music on band nights.

“We offer a safe environment and all different kinds of activities every day for the kids to play in,” said Barrett.

It also offers community service projects that benefit the local homeless shelters and the Jewish Home for the Elderly. It also hosts a donation drive for the Easton Animal Control Shelter. “We really want these kids to get involved in the community,” Barrett said.

Many of the kids say the activities are their favorite part of the program. “This place is awesome. It’s fun and we get to do different stuff everyday that we can’t do in school,” said Jack Haller, 13.

The community center is even more important now, Jack said, because they no longer offer recess at his school. “This is my recess,” he said.

Besides giving kids a safe place to play or to do volunteer work, Barrett said, the program gives the teens an opportunity to figure themselves out. “It’s a great place for these kids to get to know themselves. I think at this age, not too many kids know who there are yet, and we help them learn more about themselves,” Barrett said.

And that message hasn’t been lost on the kids. Nico Bennett, 13, said, “I really like coming here. You get really close to the staff here, and they become like your best friends. I know that I can tell them things that are going on and they listen to me, help me figure stuff out.”

The after school program is open to all middle school children and runs Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. For more information on the center , call 203-459-9700.

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