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Nevin Center forms its first Youth Council

on January 3, 2011

It’s time the kids have a say.

That’s the new mantra of Jose Loaiza, longtime volunteer and teacher at the Nevin Center, a community center in the Iron Triangle neighborhood of Richmond.

Loaiza, who grew up in Richmond, said he wants young people in the area to have an opportunity to take a more active role in community events.

It will start, he hopes, with the first Iron Triangle Neighborhood Youth Council, an organization where young people will set the agenda for their own events, he said.

“There are a lot of people making decisions for you and about you,” Loaiza said at the second meeting, which was held in mid December. “ We adults would like you to take an active part in the community.”

Loaiza handed out flyers with the slogan “Hands on Our Future” printed in bold italic letters across the top of the page.

Following introductions, the small group gathered in the main lobby of the Nevin Center to discuss the qualities of good leaders and the importance of service.

Loaiza said he remembers getting into his fair share of trouble as a teenager, being suspended from high school four separate times. It was a trying time in his life, but he recalls having a support system.

That’s what kids at the Nevin Center need, he said. Acknowledging first that while they do receive help from adults, it is also important to receive support from peers.

Loaiza said he would like the youth council to foster educational and social development among its members.

“I would like it to be directed to opening their minds to the possibilities that are out there.” he said. “What I want to do is expose these young people to positive alternatives.”

The groups’ first proposed event is an ice skating outing and a trip to a local university. It may seem like a small thing to some people. But Loaiza insists it’s the little things that make a difference in how young people carry themselves.

In part, it is an opportunity for them to do something constructive while enjoying themselves “instead of staying home and smoking or gang banging,” he said.

Paige Jones, 12, said she decided to join when she was invited to the first meeting.

“It looks fun,” she said.

Jones, a familiar face around Nevin Center, said she’s excited to meet with other young people about the community and to play games.

Eager to get the events moving, Paige shyly agreed to inquire about discount BART tickets for the ice skating event.

The Iron Triangle Youth Council or Concilio Juvenile del la Comunidad Triangolo de Hierro will meet twice a month at the Nevin Community Center at 598 Nevin Avenue. The next meeting will be held January 8 at 3:30 p.m.

For more information contact the Nevin Community Center at (510) 620-6813.

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