Submitted by Toby Roberts – Lakewood YMCA Executive Director.
In late spring of 2023, teen violence was spiking in the Lakewood area. With summer approaching, Superintendent Ron Banner feared for the safety of students during the upcoming break.
Ron, who serves on the Lakewood Y council, came to Charlie Davis (YMCA CEO) and myself to discuss what could be done to keep teens safe during the summer months.
The Y had been considering bringing the Late Nite program back, but the financial hard times brought on by COVID had delayed the return of this very impactful program. The Clover Park School District (CPSD) stepped in and provided the financial support needed to bring Late Nite back to Lakewood.
Not only would the Y be there for teens every Friday night, but CPSD support allowed the Y to offer Late Nite Monday through Friday all summer long. For the next three months teens would engage in sports, arts, and leadership development programs at the Y.
More importantly, Lakewood teens would connect with mentors, friends, and thrive in a positive environment. The Lakewood Y Late Nite program would go on to have the highest attendance of similar programs in neighboring cities. The number of violent and disruptive incidents involving teens was minimal throughout the summer.
Superintendent Banner and his board were so impressed with the Y program, they continue funding efforts through 2024. The collaboration between the Y and the Clover Park School District continues to guide teens in a positive direction, while making Lakewood a safer and more vibrant community.