FARMINGTON — Selectmen Tuesday, Sept. 14, approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Alfond Youth and Community Center (AYCC) in Waterville that will allow the Parks and Recreation Department to offer more teen programming.

AYCC has received a Boys and Girls Clubs Experience grant to improve youth outcomes through curricula, services and activities in the areas of healthy lifestyles, academic success, and good character/citizenship. The MOU is effective through September 30, 2022.

AYCC Teen Program Coordinator Avery Ryan used to work for the Farmington department, Parks and Recreation Director Matthew Foster said.

“He’s been a good staff, got in touch with me about this offer,” Foster said. “I was pretty excited. We’ve been working on the details.”

The grant pays for funding, staffing and developing programs in six counties across the state, Ryan said.

A part-time site coordinator and assistant will be responsible for the development, scheduling and administration of programs.

“Working with Matt was something I wanted to pursue,” he said. “I also worked at the (UMF) Fitness Center, could see the lack of teen programming.”

Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) need to be part of it and 25 teens will need to participate at least two hours per week, Ryan said. In late spring/early summer the grant will be reviewed and a renewal looked at to potentially extend it through 2024, he noted.

BGCA programs will promote healthy community engagement, social development and good choices. They include:

• Career Launch: job readiness/career exploration with resume building, the interview process and developing career goals.

• Passport to Manhood/SMART Girls: programs that offer social/emotional growth as teens transition to adulthood.

• Triple Play: Fitness/recreation program that encourages active, healthy lifestyles and leadership opportunities.

• Power Hour/Project Learn: Academic support/supplemental programming to assist with homework and study strategies.

• Mental health service and contraceptive access referrals must also be included, although not provided onsite.

Other programs would be developed based on youth interest and needs. Outdoor experiences and volunteering opportunities are possibilities.

Adding two staff members to the budget would be extremely difficult, Foster said.

“It’s good for the town,” he noted. “A lot of our programs go up to 12 years, don’t have a lot between 13 and 18.”

Teens are hard to target, get them involved, Foster said. That hasn’t been successful over the years, he added.

“We could use this opportunity for staffing, resources that I can’t bring, put that much into,” Foster said. “It’s a great opportunity to reach those kids coming into adulthood who need more structure, guidance or just a place to connect with other people and build healthy relationships.”

Selectperson Scott Landry asked if all programs would be used.

Programs can be picked or chosen based on the kids involved, Ryan said. Not limited to those mentioned, others can be developed based on needs, he noted.

Selection criteria information was requested by Selectman Stephan Bunker.

“Most would be through the schools and word of mouth,” Ryan said. “I already have a number of those community relationships. It would be the responsibility of the site coordinators to reach out to schools.”

There is no cost to either students or parents, no financial responsibility for the town, he noted.

“This is exciting,” Selectman Michael Fogg said. “This is 100% free to everybody.”

It would be about $42,000 a year for the town just for employees’ wages, he noted.

Selectman Joshua Bell asked about determining when the Community Center would be used.

“We’re going to work that out,” Foster said. “They’re giving a pretty good investment in our community. It could be the start for something we could take over if the grant doesn’t last forever.”

Teen programming is long overdue, Selectman Chairman Matthew Smith said.

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