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Carnegie Boys & Girls Club offers weekly free teen program

| Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
Dave Linko (center), 11, Jerod Bethea (left), 12, Remo Benaiah (top), 10, and Rajan Kopec, 10, play 'Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4' during a teen night at the Carnegie Boys & Girls Club on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017. The club offers free teen nights every Wednesday.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Dave Linko (center), 11, Jerod Bethea (left), 12, Remo Benaiah (top), 10, and Rajan Kopec, 10, play 'Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4' during a teen night at the Carnegie Boys & Girls Club on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017. The club offers free teen nights every Wednesday.
Genevieve Beyer (left), 14, reacts as she plays a game of foosball with Carlee Smith, 15, during a teen night at the Carnegie Boys & Girls Club on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017. The club offers free teen nights every Wednesday.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Genevieve Beyer (left), 14, reacts as she plays a game of foosball with Carlee Smith, 15, during a teen night at the Carnegie Boys & Girls Club on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017. The club offers free teen nights every Wednesday.
Joey Stoner, 12, nudges Derek Manning, 12, out of the way as he goes for a layup during a game of 'NBA Hoops' at the Carnegie Boys & Girls Club on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017. The club offers a free teen night every Wednesday.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Joey Stoner, 12, nudges Derek Manning, 12, out of the way as he goes for a layup during a game of 'NBA Hoops' at the Carnegie Boys & Girls Club on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017. The club offers a free teen night every Wednesday.

On Wednesday nights, the Carnegie Boys & Girls Club opens up its facilities to teens — free of charge.

“This club hasn't had a teen program for a while,” Director Juan Perez said. “When I came in 2013, one of my goals was to establish a teen program because I grew up in a club and it was important for me to be off the streets and be around productive people.”

In partnership with Carnegie Mayor Jack Kobistek and the borough, teen nights came to fruition last year after Kobistek also saw a need for activities for teens.

“There just isn't enough activities for kids 13 to 18 years old,” Kobistek said. “When you turn 16, you have a car and more options but when you're younger, you don't have a car and there isn't a lot available for them to do in our communities — something other communities struggle with as well.”

Every Wednesday from 5 to 8 p.m., the club is open for teens who have the opportunity to play basketball, shoot pool, attend art programs or just hang out with friends and enjoy the amenities of the club on Washington Avenue. The borough sponsors pizza as well on Wednesday nights throughout the summer.

Teen nights started out slow but attendance has grown, drawing up to 50 kids each week. Attendance dips when school starts.

Daniel Snow, 14, of Pittsburgh said he enjoys the club's art program because “it is a challenging and interesting things and you can see yourself improve over the weeks.”

He said he likes using the Carnegie club.

“The club is nice because there are so many people and things to do there,” he said. “I have been to other Boys & Girls Clubs, but they didn't seem to have the same variety as this one.”

For kids who want to be more involved with the club but whose families might not be able to afford it, Perez said he finds ways to make it work since other aspects of the club do require paid memberships.

He said he has seen money as a barrier to getting teens to the club.

“We make sure everyone has access to all of our programming,” Perez said. “We find creative ways to pay for their memberships, including fundraising and selling concessions during sports.”

Teen nights also are used by the club as a way to get participating teens involved in other aspects of programming and also offers them opportunities to coach sports leagues and help with a literacy program.

“If you're in the area and don't have anything going on, stop into teen night,” Kobistek said he tells teens. “Just come hang out and make some friends.”

Sarah Sudar is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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