Teens decorate downtown center with murals

Well, it would be great if those too young to drive had a way to get from Bridport and other towns to the Addison Central Teen Center in Middlebury. The above comment came from one of the younger teens during the roundtable discussion on Saturday as part of the Mural Project. State Senator Claire Ayer and Reps. Betty Nuovo, Steve Maier, and David Sharpe listened attentively to their younger constituents tell them about issues facing teenagers in Addison County and other parts of the State. Over 40 people from ages 12 to 70 came together this past Saturday to paint a mural in the hallway of the Addison Central Teen Center. Under the leadership of Executive Director Erik Shonstrom, the Teen Center shares space with the Russell Sholes Senior Center in the Middlebury Municipal Building. Organized by the Service Politics Institute (SPI) and the Alliance for Civic Engagement of Middlebury College, the mural project was one of several activities throughout the county in celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr., Day. South Ridge, a new residential community of so-called environmentally sustainable homes located near downtown Middlebury; Countryside Carpet and Paint, and Middlebury College donated money, materials, food, and supplies to make the project possible. After joining SPI, Americorps VISTA volunteer Maegan Olivos organized the project and coordinated the efforts of the different organizations. The need for a skateboard park in Middlebury was among other concerns voiced by the teenagers. They also talked about the need to provide more support for the 16% of Vermont children who are unsupervised after school. Only 17% of Vermont's K-12 youth are able to participate in afterschool programs. There seemed to be agreement that the Teen Center is a start, but there is a long way to go. College Dean of Diversity Shirley Ramirez and ACE Director Tiffany Sargent accompanied several college students who joined in the work and discussion. Amy McGlashan, executive director of the Vermont Campus Compact and a SPI board member, encouraged the participants to organize other projects around the state to promote cooperation between colleges and community members.

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