Life Skills, Support, and Recreation Services
During afterschool hours, Middle Earth offers teens constructive activities to occupy their free time, teaches life skills, and offers guidance, becoming a support system for youth who would otherwise not have one, in the hopes of intervening prior to troubled behavior and teaching them the skills needed to become responsible adults.
Middle Earth becomes a "home away from home" for many kids, a place to go instead of "hanging out" on the street. Teens who are unsupervised during afterschool hours are 37% more likely to become teen parents and 49% more likely to use drugs. In addition, juvenile crime triples during afterschool hours. By engaging youth in fun activities during these times, we help them avoid these risky behaviors.
We offer these specific programs to help the youth in our community engage in positive activities:
Community Youth Centers
The Middle Earth Community Youth Centers provide a safe and supervised place during out-of-school hours for youth (ages 12-18) to gather for fun activities, interact positively with their peers, learn life skills, and talk to caring adults.
Our comprehensive service centers provide an array of benefits to youth all in one location, including:
- positive recreation (such as pool and ping pong tables, TV, DVD player, stereo, exercise equipment, board and video games, basketball, arts and crafts materials, cameras, computers, and a bulletin board of planned activities),
- caring and supportive adults who act as role models and mentors,
- tutoring and academic support,
- access to leadership training and character building,
- community service opportunities,
- crisis intervention and referral services,
- employment readiness (teaching skills to improve marketability in the workforce),
- life skills education (e.g. cooking, obtaining a driver’s license, financial literacy, independent living), and
- transportation, if needed.
Youth are able to “walk-in” during Center hours to access any of the services mentioned above for free. We offer three Centers locations:
- Bound Brook Community Youth Center. This Center is open Monday-Thursday 3-6 p.m., and Friday from 3-7 p.m., and is located at the Codrington Park Field House in Bound Brook.
- Somerville Community Youth Center. This Center is located in the First Baptist Church at 132 W. High Street in Somerville, and is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3-6 p.m.
- Linkages. This Center is available to all students at the Somerset County Vocational-Technical High School throughout the year during school hours. Middle Earth offers recreation and outreach services to the students, in order to provide safe and positive leisure activities, and identify youth who are in need of special services.
The JOURNEYS Program provides a structured, out-of-school program for Somerset County at-risk youth, ages 12 to 17, experiencing difficulties, such as frequent contact with police, a history of acting out in the community, or school problems.
The primary goal of JOURNEYS is to guide teens, who have begun to engage in antisocial and low-level delinquent behavior, towards a more positive path. The Program will also help to improve school attendance, behavior, and performance.
JOURNEYS provides daily supervision and group meetings. In addition to positive recreation, teens in JOURNEYS are provided with:
- character development lessons (such as anger management, leadership and positive decision-making),
- academic support to improve their performance and explore their future options, and
- employment readiness skills (such as resume-writing and interviewing).
The ART House
This Program helps to decrease risky behavior by teaching at-risk youth to safely and confidently express themselves. Exposure to the arts has been shown to improve self-esteem and confidence, academic performance, cognitive skills, and motivation.
Professional artists conduct monthly workshops in the areas of Music, Theater, or Visual Arts, mimicking an apprenticeship. After the workshop, students will exercise these skills daily, after school, by working on projects, which can include, but are not limited to: improvisational skits, single scene plays, collaborative murals, individual art work, and songwriting with music. Youth also take educational trips to local museums, performances, and studios, as part of their exposure and learning experience. The Art House provides opportunities for youth to showcase their work or perform their talents for the community, friends and family.