During their special Parents Night Out event last Saturday evening, members of the TTCC Teen Council paused their activities at the community center for a group photo with some of the more than 20 boys and girls who participated in their Carnival Night fun while moms and dads relaxed for a few hours. (Photo by Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
November 20, 2018BRISTOL – Last Friday evening, a group of young men and women provided once again a truly great community service at the Tapply-Thompson Community Center in Bristol — they gave parents of young children in the Newfound Region a break.
TTCC's Teen Council President Tuan Nguyen said Parents Night Out is now in its second year as a fundraiser for the organization and has been received very well by the community.
"This started at Christmas time so parents could shop but it's evolved into something we do every now and again just to give them a night off. It's a lot of fun," said Nguyen.
For each of their Parents Night Out events, the council members come up with a theme that they believe the children will enjoy. Last weekend's event had a carnival theme and the students came up with games and activities based around that idea. Among those were a basketball shooting station, a duck draw, a Bingo-style game and a ping-pong challenge. As children were successful at each of the many activities, they received tickets that could be redeemed for special prizes.
As many as 20 teenaged council members and a few adults were on hand to oversee the 22 boys and girls, ages four through 12, who came by for all the fun. Hot Dogs, popcorn and other treats helped make it a special time for the boys and girls, too, as their parents took a few hours off to shop, dine out or just sit home and relax.
Nguyen said that Teen Council, which has expanded over the past four years from 12 to 38 members, has proven to be a great community-based initiative for high school-aged students in the Newfound Regional School District. The group meets every other Wednesday at the high school where they discuss their plans and in just a few years they have already accomplished a lot.
Besides Parents Night Out, the teens participate in a number of other community programs. The group sponsors sports teams at TTCC and provides scholarship money each summer for a child attending camp at the center. They also host the annual Haunted Basement for Halloween, assist in the One-Stop Christmas Shop for children each December and take part in after school programs at the community center. As if that's not enough they also now run Teen Dances held at TTCC, providing refreshments, music and lots of fun for local teens like themselves.
"Every year, we add a new event, though," Nguyen said.
In 2019, adult Bingo nights will be held beginning in March with proceeds helping the teens in their mission to give back to the community in any way they can.
Their mission still doesn't end there though. Teen Council also fundraises all year long to help improve the community center building itself. Over the past few years of bake sales, Old Home Day activities, Parents Night Out and more, they have managed to accumulate a bank account of more than $4,600 for projects and have raised an additional $20,000 to make improvements to the TTCC gym.
"We all want to leave a legacy to the town because it has done so much for us," said Nguyen. "People in this town care so much, and we're proud to be a part of it."
Nguyen initially joined Teen Council to basically accumulate community service hours for his college resume but said, "I found out I liked it! It's a lot of fun and it's really nice to realize you're benefitting the community."
With money in their account to improve the gym, the council is looking ahead once again. As they await bids from contractors for that project, they are now starting a campaign to replace the front windows of the community center.
"They're old. They're drafty, there's BB gun holes in them- it's just time to get better windows and screens, so that's our next project," Nguyen said.
Overseeing Teen Council as their advisor is Gina Richford who is assisted this year by 2018 NRHS graduate Mikayla Royea. Richford said each year it has been wonderful to have a recent graduate and former Teen Council member step up to assist in leading the group. That, she added, only goes to show how much the experience has meant to members both past and present.
"It's great to see kids graduate and still want to be a part of this in some way," Richford said.
Next up for the council's activities will be assistance with the annual TTCC Santa's Village, but they are also looking forward to participation with other programs, community events and fundraisers in the year ahead.
High school-aged students who are interested in joining the ever-growing group of teens may do so by contacting Richford for an application through either the TTCC office or Newfound Regional High School.