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Generation Next Academy Teen Center at DotHouse Health: A resource for teens in the heart of Dorchester

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Since 2005, the Generation Next Academy Teen Center, (GNA) at DotHouse Health has been an area of security in the Fields Corner neighborhood that provides teens access to after-school activities at no cost. GNA is proud of its commitment to maintaining a “Bully Free Zone” for neighborhood teens ages 12–19 years old. GNA’s focus is on building the whole teen through a variety of venues. GNA helps to build academic strengths through media, group activities and mentoring. By encouraging self-expression through writing, art and the on-site Media Studio, GNA strives to help teens build self-esteem, work on projects to reduce teen violence and improve communication skills. Many of the GNA graduating teens have gone on to college with numerous academic and athletic scholarships.

Understanding that the socioeconomic status of a community can be a barrier to success for youth, GNA hopes to be an essential resource in the community. In addition to supplying healthy snacks each day, GNA also conducts many annual events such as the start of school 1st Impression Day — an opportunity for youth to receive school supplies and a boost of confidence to prepare them for their first day back to school. GNA holds the Safe Love Dance, an event that helps promote and focus on building healthy relationships and also hosts college fairs, Thanksgiving dinner and other seasonal activities to promote positive factors.

Located inside DotHouse Health Center, GNA provides a safe haven for teens to come and unwind and get help on their homework. The gym focuses on physical education around strength and endurance building, team spirit, peer leadership, cognitive skills, and of course, sports, with the understanding that exercise is not only good for the body, but also stimulates the mind and reduces stress.

Homework assistance is provided at the start of each day. Students who do not have homework are asked to read one of the books in the GNA library for 20 minutes. Games focused on building math and writing skills are used as a tool to engage students in improving those areas. In addition, the Job Readiness program includes resume building, mock interviews and job search techniques. GNA also provides internships for senior students from area schools to build on their work experience and provide a deeper understanding of the responsibilities that the work environment entails.

The GNA Youth Council empowers teens by providing structure, encouraging input and empowering members to make decisions on present and future GNA activities. Becoming a GNA Council member allows teens to understand and articulate the needs and concerns of teens that may not otherwise be vocalized or heard.

In addition to the after- school program, GNA hosts a Summer Learning Program in collaboration with Boston After School & Beyond and Boston Public Schools. This program allows 6th and 7th grade students the opportunity to attend a summer program for 5 weeks. It builds on improving math, ELA and life skills through structured academic and enrichment activities at no cost.

It is the mission of Generation Next Academy to be an essential resource for the community in the efforts to achieve the highest levels of health, well-being and quality of life for the youth it serves.