We first introduced The LGBT Community Center’s Youth Clubhouse in the October 2016 issue of Recovery Talk when it first opened its doors to LGBT youth (ages 18-21) in New York City and its boroughs. That was almost seven months ago so we thought we’d check in to see how things are progressing and boy, are they progressing!
To date, the clubhouse has served more than 200 individual youths who come from all five boroughs of New York City. Open Monday through Friday from 3:00 – 7:30 pm (with weekend and evening trips and activities as scheduled), the Clubhouse attracts an average of twenty – thirty youth every day. 50-60% of whom attend regularly and play an active role in the community.
Among the programs and services offered are Prosocial Drop-in Groups and Recreational Activities, Peer Coaching Opportunities and Support, Community Field Trips and Events with opportunities for family participation, Gender and Sexual identity Exploration Groups, Clubhouse Advisory Board, Recovery Support/Maintenance Groups, and the Photovoice Photography Project.
According to the Center’s Youth Clubhouse Membership Specialist, Liam Cudmore, LMSW, an Advisory Board comprised of nine Clubhouse’s youth members, meets with various community stakeholders every Friday evening to present programs on topics that promote health and wellbeing. For example, representatives from the Prevention Resource Center recently dropped in to speak about their programs; and SmokeFree NYC came by to speak about collaborating on an event at the Clubhouse for National Kick Butts Day.
On Wednesday evenings the Clubhouse offers Zen Zone, which includes activities like relaxation and mindfulness exercises, yoga, stretching, aromatherapy, etc. (Sign us up!)
The Clubhouse recently introduced a photography group, Xposure. Members visited a community dark room during the group’s first session and made their own pinhole cameras during the second session. (Yes! They really work!)
Another exciting program about to launch has been created in partnership with the City of New York Mayor’s Office. The program, Interlude+, will consist of music workshops led by LGBT musicians who’ve volunteered to come and instruct and educate Clubhouse members. (The program will be held on three upcoming Saturdays.)
Because so much of recovery involves lending help and support when and where we can, Clubhouse members have the opportunity to apply to become Peer Coaches. Interested youth meet regularly for supervision as a group and upon completion, are able to provide one-on-one support to their peers, facilitate homework help, board games, etc.
In addition to programs offered at the Center, there have been a number of field trips outside of the city to which family members are invited, including a recent visit to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, Bowling Night (also in Brooklyn). Members will be heading to the Bronx to attend a Yankee v Red Sox game in June; and a Friends & Family Day will be held in the Center’s garden space in July.
We wondered how the Clubhouse has been able to attract and engage so many youth (many of whom travel quite a distance to be there). According to the Center’s Director of Youth Counseling & Support, Peter Karys, LCSW, CPP, much of it has been through word of mouth and a very active social media presence. But, in addition, they recently commissioned a Venezuelen “Insta-Artist” to design a series of ads currently appearing in subway cars throughout the city!
Clearly, the LGBT Community Center Youth Clubhouse is providing critically important recovery support in the community. We’re thrilled to see the numbers of youth taking advantage of its offerings on a regular basis and look forward to its continued growth and success.
Thank you to Liam S. Cudmore, LMSW, Youth Clubhouse Membership Specialist and Peter Karys, LCSW, CPP, Director of Youth Counseling and Support for taking the time to speak with us for this update and for the profound difference you’re making in the lives of the many young people you serve.
For general contact information as well as links to the Clubhouse’s social media channels, visit the LGBT Community Center Youth Clubhouse page on our website, here.