Moab Teen Center's teen advisory board secretary and president, Tarah Holmberg and Heather Lockamy, joke around over a game of pool at Club Red. [Photo by Pippa Thomas / Moab Sun News]

The Moab Teen Center: Club Red is being taken over by a panel of teenagers. A new advisory board, now made up of seven high school students, is helping Club Red restructure their programming and re-brand their image.

The center lost the Utah Safe Passages grant last June due to low attendance. The grant provided 75-percent of the center’s funding, which forced the city to cut the center’s staff and hours.

To address the low attendance, the center’s staff interviewed teens at Grand County High School (GCHS) and studied successful centers in other locations. They discovered two primary areas to address: firstly, many teens simply did not know the center existed or what it offered.

Secondly, “successful centers are run by teens,” said Amy Stocks, director of the Moab Teen Center. “The needs are so specific to each area that it takes a teen to really know what’s needed and desired,” Stocks said.

Stocks and her one employee, Kate Bell-Mooris, an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer assigned full-time to the center, sent out an appeal through the high school asking teens to form the center’s Teen Advisory Board.

They sold the idea as a way for teens to make a difference in their community.

“The purpose of the Teen Advisory Board is for us to listen to what they come up with and then help actualize their vision,” Stocks said.

“I came because I want to get out of my comfort zone and find new people to hang out with and new things to do,” said Heather Lockamy, the new board’s president and a junior at GCHS. She was also driven by the idea of helping other teens younger than herself, specifically when it comes to bullying.

“I want to have a place where people who are being bullied can come and talk about it and work it out and find other options to work with it,” Lockamy said.

Mentoring younger teens is another hot issue for the board members.

“I feel like the middle-schoolers are just trying to figure out what to do. I know for sure that I didn’t know what the heck was going to happen when I got into high school and I just wanted to figure it out,” said Tarah Holmberg, the board secretary and sophomore at GCHS.

The board is currently discussing how to best format a mentoring program.

The advisory board gives their input on all of the Moab Teen Center’s existing events and programming, like the Chocolate Lover’s Fling and Dodge Ball, and is also coming up with fresh ideas to implement.

“I feel quite impressed with the attention they give to it. They take it seriously,” Bell-Mooris said. Tasked with raising $1000, they’ve begun planning a demolition-car fundraiser. A car to demolish has already been donated.

“But we have to find a place and then just get the word out,” said Holmberg.

The center hopes to put on a total of six fund raising events this year, and plans to add a kickball tournament and flamingo flocking, to its roster of events, like the dodge ball tournament held in January.

“This is where the teen center will be teaching valuable real life skills to these teens,” Stocks said.

In planning events and programs, the teens must also manage budgeting, marketing, and overseeing the logistics.

“They’ll be ahead of the game if they want to get involved in non-profit work because they’ll have already served on a board,” Stocks said.

Other new programs the center is already running include two BEACON clubs.

The HMK BEACON’s Friends Club consists of seven sixth-grade girls who use the Moab Teen Center as a hang-out between 3:30 and 5 p.m. every Wednesday. The girls get full use of the center’s pool, foosball, air-hockey and ping-pong tables.

The Dance Committee club is for middle school students to meet once a week to plan an afterschool dance hosted at the Center Street Gym for middle school students on Jan 18.

Seven-person Advisory Board for Moab Teen Center tackling low attendance

“I came because I want to get out of my comfort zone and find new people to hang out with and new things to do.” Heather Lockamy, Teen Advisory Board