CHAPEL HILL Teenagers in Carrboro and Chapel Hill lacking a place to hang out at after school may be interested in the Youth Community Project’s silent art auction at the Chapel Hill Art Gallery on Thurday and Friday.
Half of the proceeds from the auction will support art programs in Carrboro, Chapel Hill and East Chapel Hill high schools. The Youth Community Project (YCP), which is working to establish a youth center, will receive the rest.
The types of art that will be auctioned include acrylic paintings, pastels, cross stitches, and digital media. The prompt for the works asked artists why a youth center is necessary. Violinists from Carrboro High School will perform at the event during this week’s 2nd Friday Artwalk from 6 to 9 p.m..
Elaine Jerome founded YCP after she moved to Chapel Hill and saw few opportunities for her teenage granddaughter here. The YCP first consisted of the Teen Support Coalition and the YCP, run by adults and teenagers, respectively. The two programs later merged to become the YCP.
The group envisions a space where teenagers can talk to friends, perform, learn things, and attend meetings. Some of the organizations already meeting at YCP’s headquarters beside the PTA Thrift Shop in Carrboro are the Queer Youth Drop In, Youth Against Rape Culture, Triangle Bike Works, and Transplanting Traditions.
Cameron Pittman, a senior at Chapel Hill High School who attends Queer Youth Drop In meetings, said the center would fill a gap in the community.
“It’s so obvious in this area that there’s so much provided for young kids, kids up through elementary, maybe middle school,” she said. “It’s a college town, so there’s bars and clubs and everything is provided for college students, but there’s not much in-between area for teens. Because it’s a college town, that can very easily lead to teens going to spaces that are meant for college kids and that can be very dangerous.”
Pittman wants the center to be “a safe space for anyone.”
Lucia Drinkwalter, a Chapel Hill High senior who contributed a pastel painting to the auction, said iNSIDEoUT, an organization she participates in, has had difficulty finding places to meet.
“A big problem that we have because we’re in the Triangle is that half of our time is spent figuring out where to go,” she said. “ The fact that there’s a push for a space is actually more important than people think.”
For YCP Secretary Tom McQuiston, establishing a teen center is personal. His son Matt died after accidentally overdosing on drugs.
His son’s memorial fund donated to the YCP because “one of the things Matt desperately needed was a healthy environment where he could contribute to something bigger than himself and hang out and be among friends in a safe environment,” according to a statement from the fund.
YCP needs additional space, donations and volunteers. Contact the group at 919 933-0344 or teensupportcoalition.org. To donate, make checks out to NC Choices for Youth and include YCP on the memo line. Checks can be mailed to P.O. Box 915, Carrboro, NC 27510.