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article imageIt's a teen's world at this park in Farmington Hills Michigan

By Cynthia Trowbridge     Jul 16, 2007 in Lifestyle
Founders Sports Park is a 100 acres park that is being used for teens as a safe gathering place for them to hang out and have fun.
Bryan Farmer wants the teens to gather here instead of hanging out at the malls or going to the movies.
Farmer wants the park to be a hip place where there are boccie ball courts and an ice arena. There is also a club that is open Friday nights with live bands. A skateboarding park is set to open later this year.
To help teens get to the park a SMART bus route runs near two of the high schools and drops them off at the park.
"Not that many places actively court teenagers," said Farmer, a recreation supervisor. "But we want them here."
The input of teens is being sought by some recreation providers through youth councils.
According to Nikki Burnstein, 16, who is a member of the Farmington Hills Mayor's Youth Council, "I have really liked growing up here and I think I've been able to do some good."
Some of the things the council has come up with are a pudding-eating contest and dodge ball tournament. What they are really proud of is the 29,000-square-foot, $800,000 Riley Skate Park. They are hoping it will draw teens from all across the region.
A 12-year-old says that he is never bored at the park.
An assistant research scientist at the University of Michigan's School of Social Work, Katie Richards-Schuster, in her preliminary findings says getting young people involved keeps them out of trouble and will bring new ideas to officials
"Who better to plan programming for teenagers than the young people themselves?" she said.
Mike Maisner, executive director of the Michigan Recreation and Park Association, said that teens who get involved early on in civics tend to stay involved later in life. Also, giving teenagers ownership of an idea means that they will be more likely to participate.
Farmer hopes when the skate park is open that more teens will come to the park and then participate in the parks other programs.
"It's my job to make these opportunities for teenagers," he said. "And it's my job to give them the opportunity to effect change."
It is good for communities to give teens a chance to get involved in things that interests them and helps to develop their minds in constructive ways.
More about Teens, Founders sports park, Recreation
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