The new Port youth center aims to help teenagers and young adults to flourish

HENDERSON, Ky. — Dozens of members of the Henderson community this month hosted The Port, a drop-in youth center in town to welcome, entertain and support youth and young adults ages 16 to 25. years, including those struggling with mental health or addiction issues. abuse issues.

The center will be operated by RiverValley Behavioral Health, which has operated in this area for decades.

“The Harbor is a safe harbor for the young people of Henderson,” RiverValley President and CEO Dr. Wanda Figueroa-Peralta told a crowd at an open house and celebratory ceremony. inauguration at the Port, located in the former Gleaner building at 455 Klutey Park. Plaza Drive, across from the Henderson County Family YMCA.

The port will provide young people with access to computers, recreational activities, game systems, exercise equipment and laundry facilities, as well as mental health counselling, placement services, life skills training and peer support.

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Laptops connected to WiFi will be made available, as well as a ping-pong table, table football, mini-basketball goals and a punching bag. A children’s playroom with toys is available for youngsters who wish to bring their children. clinically trained to be able to identify the “things” that might prevent a young person from making the transition to a successful life.

“We want them to have a safe place and develop a relationship with our staff,” Figueroa-Peralta said.

“The goal is to empower them to make good decisions and build friendships and mentoring relationships,” she said. “Every child, every young person, every young adult needs an advocate,” she said.

All services will be provided free of charge.

The center will be open from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, with extended hours during the summer and school holidays.

“It’s not a clinic,” Figueroa-Peralta stressed. “People don’t need a referral to come here. Everyone is welcome.

On August 26, RiverValley Behavioral Health President and CEO Dr. Wanda Figueroa-Peralta addresses a large crowd gathered at The Port Youth Center in the old Gleaner Building at 455 Klutey Park Plaza Drive to an open house and ribbon cutting for the new youth fall.  -In the center.

But she said The Port intends to develop collaborations with school counselors, churches, businesses and other institutions that can make young people aware of her availability. And its staff can refer a young client to one of RiverValley’s many accredited counseling programs here.

Ease of access is key, said Chip Stauffer, a former Henderson police chief who represents Henderson County on the RiverValley board.

“Young people are often afraid to ask for help,” Stauffer said.

“This is absolutely the best time for this organization to be in our community for our youth,” said Mayor Steve Austin. men were shot and two others were injured, allegedly by another resident) shows us how important this is in our community,” Austin said. “We need more mental health awareness.”

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The old Gleaner building which houses the port has been significantly refreshed after being little used in recent years and completely vacant for two years. The woodwork has been replaced by brightly painted walls in white and sky blue.

“Bright and shiny versus dull and not so great,” Austin, who spent more than 40 years at The Gleaner, including as an editor, described the interior.

“It was one of the best newspapers in the country,” Henderson County Judge/Executive Brad Schneider said to cheers from the dozens of Henderson residents in attendance. This brought him to Henderson in 1988 to work as a sportswriter.

“For decades it was a place dedicated to helping the community,” Schneider said. “The Gleaner doesn’t really exist in that form anymore. But it makes me feel good that this building, this place, continues to be used to improve the community.

‘We can’t do enough for our young people,’ regardless of ‘the color of your skin or…the street you live on,’ said the Reverend Charles Johnson, executive director of the Human Rights Commission of Henderson-Henderson County,

RiverValley Behavioral Health President and CEO Dr. Wanda Figueroa-Peralta embraces Henderson County Judge/Executive Brad Schneider following a ceremony Aug. 26 welcoming the new drop-in youth center The Port of RiverValley in the old Gleaner building at 455 Klutey Park Plaza Drive.

Dr Lionel Phelps, Vice President of RiverValley who Figueroa-Peralta said was “the architect of the design of this program”, said young people “face so many challenges”, including the level of education, body image, substance abuse or addictions, lack of affordable housing. , negative stereotypes and pressure from peers and social media.

Wearing, he said, can provide them with “a safe, fun and therapeutic environment” as well as “everything they might need to get the best possible outcome.”

The port is funded by a federal initiative called TAYLRD (Transition Age Youth Launching Realized Dreams), which provides Kentucky youth with easy access to high-quality, developmentally appropriate, youth-focused support services. The Port of Henderson will be the 10th TAYLRD drop-off center to launch in Kentucky and, at 5,000 square feet, the largest.

“We know that all young people have the potential to grow and succeed. We wanted to create a place where young people can spend time in a safe and supportive environment that will help them achieve their goals and empower them as they transition into adulthood,” Figueroa-Peralta said.

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