Armory Youth Project after party successful

A large crowd of teenagers gathered at the Armory Youth Project after party on Friday. (Courtesy)

A large crowd of teenagers gathered at the Armory Youth Project after party on Friday. (Courtesy)

MANISTEE — After last Friday’s Manistee-Ludington football game, the Armory Youth Project hosted 146 senior high students at its first Blitz After Party.

The party provided free food, activities, contests and over $120 worth of prizes to provide students a fun Friday night alternative to house parties. Teens played basketball, dodgeball, pool, can-jam, ping-pong, pickleball, foosball, volleyball, did impromptu dancing or just hung out with friends while using the free wifi.

Over 15 teens went home with T-shirts or House of Flavors gift cards, won as door prizes or through participating in contests.

“We want to give them a place to be with friends on Friday nights,” explains Robert Carpenter, executive director of the project. “The students we have met are great kids and they just want to hang out with their friends.

“Many teens are left with two options after sporting events: go home early or head to a party that may involve the presence of illegal substance use. We want to give them a third option: the chance to have a great night without the potential for trouble.”

Students at the party shared their appreciation for the event, asking that it be repeated more often and run later into the night. Teens continued to arrive past the original end time, having heard about the event over social media posts by those attending.

“A few teens who arrived after the party had ended said that they left a house party to come here because of what they saw on social media” Carpenter shared. “That is our dream, that teens choose to leave less safe environments because they see it as more fun to be here with their friends.”

Due to the positive response from teens, the Armory Youth Project is looking to expand the “After Party” to provide more Friday night open hours meeting this need. These After Parties would be for all area senior high students.

“We had teens from Manistee, Bear Lake and Ludington this time around, but these events are for all area teens. For example, Manistee Catholic had a home game on Friday, and their students as well as students from Brethren, Kaleva, and other county schools are absolutely included in these events,” he said. “To continue After Parties, Armory Youth Project will need volunteers willing to spend a Friday night or two during football season chaperoning.

“It is probably one of the most fun and low-key ways to volunteer. Spend one or two Friday nights eating pizza, playing pool or just hanging out with teens. If just a few community members are willing to give back in this way, we could provide Friday night hours regularly.”

Community members willing to volunteer are asked to contact Armory Youth Project at (231) 299-1205, online through their Facebook page or webpage at www.armoryyouthproject.com.

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Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

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