A Place Where Teens Are Wanted

A few years ago, St. Paul’s Rice Street library was attracting a lot of teens, but adults weren’t too happy about it. The young people weren’t coming for the books or computers. They were just hanging out, often causing problems and intimidating patrons.

Rather than beef up police presence, city leaders talked with teens. What did they want? Why were they there?

“They just said they felt there wasn’t interest in the community in them as people,” said Grit Youngquist, Healthy Youth Development Program Coordinator for Ramsey County Public Health. “They felt adults were always afraid of them… That adults didn’t like them and want them around. They didn’t really feel like they belonged.”

Youngquist, co-developer of the Wakanheza Project, which tries to make communities more welcoming, recognized an opportunity. Teens wanted a place where they could be with friends, not spend money, and not get in trouble.

Four years later, city leaders and teens will share in a ribbon-cutting event at a new North End Teen Center Monday, June 20, at 11 a.m.

NE Teen Center ceiling tiles.jpg

This will be the second teen-led, adult-supported teen center in St. Paul. The first one, called “Canvas”, has an arts focus and is located in the Hancock Recreation Center.

  • Minnesota Is Mean

    I’ve been to the Rice Street Library were young teens would come in and try to ues the computers but later to be ran off by staff there.Its so sad because they are part of the community also.They need some where to go after school, I didn’t understand what all the fuss is about with this library not letting the youth of our future in to use computers or do home work in a public place.

    If the youth were getting to loud the library staff should have said something and by the way there is a police officer there also. It sad how our youth are being portrade as bad or not doing anything but hanging around insted of running them off we should offer them more activities so they won’t get into trouble after being chased away from a positive environment like the library.