UNION — A local church is looking to give teenagers “an alternative to just running loose in the streets” by serving as a local “Teen After-School Center.”
Teen After-School Centers is a program of the SC Department of Juvenile Justice’s Division of Community Services. According to a leaflet outlining the program, Teen After-School Centers (TASC) are “daily after-school programs based in local churches, community centers, and other public buildings across the state and are staffed by employees and volunteers with a heart for youth.”
The leaflet states TASC seeks to prevent at-risk behavior on the part of teens during “the hours between the end of the school day and when parents return home from work,” a period it describes as “risky time for young people.” It states that research has shown that “serious and violent crime committed by youth increases between these times.”
TASC, however, provides “supervision, structured daily activities, service coordination, and resource development for youth and their families.” The program and the services it provides have, according to the leaflet, a positive impact on the youth of the communities where they are present, helping them stay out of trouble and improving their academic performance in school.
The next community to get a TASC will be Union when Corinth Baptist Church begins offering the TASC program on Sept. 19.
The Rev. J.A. Calhoun, Pastor of Corinth Baptist, announced Friday that the church had received a $12,000 grant from the Department of Juvenile Justice allowing it to open and operate a TASC.
“We applied for the grant a little over a year ago and it came through a few weeks ago,” Calhoun said. “We’re trying to get the program started by Sept. 19.”
Calhoun said the church’s goal in serving as a TASC is the same as the program itself, to keep teenagers out of trouble by providing them with activities and services that will also benefit them throughout their lives.
“We want to keep them out of trouble,” Calhoun said. “We’re trying to give them an alternative to just running loose in the streets in the afternoon.
“We’re going to be offering tutoring, computer classes, classes that will help enhance young people’s skills in communication with each other, and we’ll be offering life skills to prepare them for the future,” Calhoun said. “We’re also going to have a mentoring program and we’ll be reaching out to businesses and individuals in the community to help out with that part.”
While the focus of the TASC is teenagers, Calhoun said the church wants parents to be involved as well. He said while teenagers can be referred to the program through the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Pre Trial Intervention program, and the school system, parents can also refer their children to it.
Calhoun asked that parents who are interested in their children taking part in the program to work with the church in arranging transportation. He said one possibility is for parents to help arrange transportation for their children through the school system. If, however, they are unable to arrange for their children’s transportation by themselves or a third party, Calhoun said the church will look into picking up the children with their parents’ permission.
The TASC will be four days a week from 3-5:30 p.m., and Calhoun said the church will provide the children with a snack or meal in addition to the educational and mentoring services it will be providing.
While the TASC itself will be knew, it will not be the first program the church has implemented to help young people and, Calhoun said, will actually complement a program that church already offers.
“This will be in conjunction with our ‘Still I Rise’ program,” Calhoun said. “This program will be four days a week while Still I Rise is one day a week.”
Calhoun said that the Still I Rise program came into being eight years ago “as an outreach ministry of this church to guide young people as they move forward through the various stages of life, preparing them to become productive citizens. It is supported wholeheartedly through funding by the United Way of The Piedmont.”
For more information about the Teen After-School Center and the Still I Rise programs at Corinth Baptist Church call Rev. J.A. Calhoun at 864-415-2743 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.