Teen Advisory Board plans for new teen hangout spot


Kelsie Garay

While the hangout spot doesn’t yet have an official location, one ideas was using the bottom floor of a future Facebook office in downtown Redwood City on certain days.

Kelsie Garay and David Ramirez

Redwood City’s Teen Advisory Board is planning to create a teen hang-out spot for high schoolers to study, chill out and chat with friends. Even though this plan is still in its early stages, the center is planned to be opened in Redwood City within the next few years.

The Teen Advisory Board is a committee of young individuals who strive to make differences in the community. They help to plan activities that benefit Redwood City’s youth, along with participating in community service activities around the city.

So far, the idea is to create a place for high schoolers to go after school. It’ll include quiet spaces to get homework done, along with separate areas for students to meet new people, hang out and get work experience.

“The reason the committee and I started this plan is because we wanted a place for students to stay for a longer period of time after school,” said junior Mary Cheevakasemkoon, the chair and member of the Teen Advisory Board.

Redwood City is pretty small. All teens have are Downtown, the library and Starbucks, so we wanted a specific place for teens from our community to go stay because there aren’t many other places for us to go.

— Mary Cheevakasemkoon, the chair and member of the Teen Advisory Board

The committee is planning on providing teens with free food and technology, along with a plan to create a program that will help teens earn work experience and learn how to earn money. According to media blog Bachelors Degree Online, teens should be taught how to work and earn money sooner rather than later because it will provide them with skills they can use later on in their lives.

“We were thinking of having a cafe for students to get free drinks as well as to earn money from working in the cafe. A lot of the board members liked the idea,” Cheevakasemkoon said. “We want to teach students management because schools don’t teach things like how to get a job, how to write a resume, and how to do an interview.”

Surveys emailed out to students asked what kinds of activities the students would want to see in the center, with many students responding with dance classes, art classes and  days and times they wanted it to be open. Based on the responses, the committee explained it’d most likely be open all week until 11 p.m, though its official operating hours will depend on how much funding they acquire.

“We would want a place that kids can just kind of go and come whenever they want and have a place for what they want,”Recreation Specialist Koletti Leha said. “They don’t have to feel obligated to stay there because it’s more of an open space for them.”

Many students frequently go to the Redwood City Public Library after school to work on homework and other projects. For many of these students, home isn’t always the best place to get work done, mostly because teens are faced with many distractions such as family matters, agitating siblings and chores. The new spot plans to create separate areas for studying and socializing in order to allow students space to best maximize their work time.

The Redwood City Public Library is open until 9 p.m. on Monday through Thursday, but is only open until 5 p.m. on Friday through Sunday. For many students, these hours aren’t long enough for them to finish all of their work at the library.  “We were thinking about being open until 11 p.m. because, personally for me, I usually stay Downtown until 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. every single day because that’s the only place that I can do homework so late,” Cheevakasemkoon said. “But sometimes the libraries aren’t open enough and schools will kick you out.”

Even though the hangout spot won’t be open for a while, when it opens, it will provide students with a relaxing space to complete homework and socialize.

“Currently, we don’t have any funding. This is all just the very first step. We are just scratching the surface, and [funding] is our next goal,” Leha said.

“We don’t want [the center] to feel structured. We just want them to feel safe and that there is a place for them to hang out and do what they want to do.”