Saturday 28 January 2023
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Cameron Community Ministries Receives Grant to Enhance Teen Space

Patti Singer

Cameron Community Ministries received a grant to turn a room like this into a serenity space for teens. Provided by Cameron Community Ministries

Ask a teen what they’d like their afterschool program to be, and you’ll get all kinds of ideas.

Some of them garnered thousands of dollars in grant money that will turn what-if into reality.

Cameron Community Ministries was among five organizations serving teens in Rochester that received money through Generator Z, a platform for teens to reimagine what afterschool looks like. Generator Z is supported by the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation.

Cameron received $15,000 that will cover the cost of converting a study room into a Serenity Space, giving teens in the Lyell-Otis neighborhood a place to chill.

“This is going to be huge for the teens,” said Emily Hessney Lynch, interim director of Cameron Community Ministries. “People are pumped for us to execute on it.”

Other local recipients are:

  • Center for Teen Empowerment, $100,000 in the theme of friends and community, to expand from a site on Genesee Street to multiple neighborhoods with activities designed by youth organizers.
  • Strength Solutions, $100,000 in the theme of jobs and careers, for tech education for low-income city and rural teens.
  • Encompass: Resources for Learning, $98,600 in the theme of life skills and balance for student-designed afterschool programs.
  • Planned Parenthood of Central & Western New York, $99,848 in the theme of creative arts and culture, to expand In Control radio program into livestream/podcast.

Grants were made to more than 90 organizations in southeastern Michigan and western New York, the areas primarily supported by the foundation in the name of the later owner of the Buffalo Bills.

Cameron Community Ministries’ grant was the smallest of the ones awarded locally, but the impact is expected to exceed the investment.

The renovation wasn’t likely to happen without the grant.

“We have a pretty small budget as an organization,” Lynch said. “Projects like this aren’t usually possible unless we have an awesome foundation to fund it.”

The money covers the physical changes to the space and provides funds to contract with a mindfulness coach, fitness instructor and other classes or activities.

Lynch cited a study by Common Ground Health that said children in the Lyell-Otis neighborhood experience a violent crime rate nearly 60% higher than the city average. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that at least half of all mental health issues arise by the time a person turns 14.

The Serenity Space is designed intentionally as a calming area. Teens will have input into what it looks like, with the idea of incorporating soft furniture, nature scenes, plants and exercise equipment.

They also will lead sessions for children in the K-6 program. The teens also will be responsible for keeping the space neat and clean.

Work is expected to start in August or September and be finished by the end of the year.