RICHFIELD — Rural areas of Idaho often tend to struggle to find healthy after school activities for students. Not having valuable options for young adults, teenagers, and children to express themselves can lead to individual students' problems.
To combat this issue, Lincoln County is pursuing a building project which would bring a youth center for students K-12. The proposed site is in the small town of Richfield at the former Richfield Community Church. The space provides over 7,000 square feet, offering plenty of room for students to engage in after school activities.
Lincoln County Commissioner, Rebecca Wood said, "The youth of Lincoln County is our greatest asset, they deserve all of the opportunities they can to have their greatest life and to go on to their highest level."
Lincoln County has had issues in the past with teenage drug and alcohol abuse, teen pregnancies, and some students getting involved with lower-tier crimes. The center will be an outlet where these children can express themselves and participate in what interests them. Some of the resources that organizers are hoping to provide are sports, arts, drama, music, cooking, tutoring, and agriculture.
By having this center, students could be more inclined to focus on their studies than get involved in mischievous behavior. "Once they hit that middle school time zone, they start getting interested in a lot of other stuff that is not necessarily productive. And if they don't have the family support to be in sports or FFA or 4H, they can get lost really easily in a small rural Idaho town," said Karma Fitzgerald, member of the Lincoln County Legacy Project.
Since it is very early in the project, some details are still being discussed on how they will be brought to fruition. The county is looking for teachers or chaperones of some sorts to help the children with these activities. The county is also looking towards implementing a transportation system to and from the center since it applies to all kids in the county.
Currently, organizers are also looking for donations from residents to help cover the lease for this year. They are seeking out a $50 contribution from 250 families which will completely cover the $12,000 rental. Once secured, those in charge of the project will attempt to receive a grant to gain ownership of the property.
Fitzgerald said, "Put a little bit of money behind us and a little bit of imagination, this can be an amazing, amazing project. Not just for the kids but for everybody."