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posted December 16, 2007

So Many Youth!

Many of you who've been skating at Dufferin Rink already this year will have noticed that the rink is at times almost overwhelmed with teenagers.

For reasons that sociologists may understand, Dufferin Rink has become a cool (hot?) place for youth to see and be seen, more so than ever before. Richard Sanger gave us a poem that explains some of it: Law of the local rink

It's very good for youth to have a reason to go out and get fresh air and good exercise. On the other hand, it's not so good to have them overwhelm other park users. Mixed use is ideal.

I want to let you know that the rink staff are acutely aware of the problem. They're trying various things --

1. a lot of talking to youth about their behaviour 2. no campfires at Dufferin Rink in the evenings for a few weeks (these tend to be another youth magnet) 3. As of Dec.14: a regular "Friday evening dance party" at WALLACE rink, i.e. skating music, with a campfire and hot dogs and hot chocolate, to draw youth over to another rink (share the wealth!) 4. As of Dec.21: a weekly youth campfire at CAMPBELL RINK. 5. Additional outdoor supervision at Dufferin Rink, except when short-staffed.

I think this concentration of youth at Dufferin Rink is a temporary problem but if you love to skate there, YOU CAN HELP too:

1. Please report ALL disruptive behaviour on the rink to the inside rink staff, RIGHT AWAY. (Don't grin and bear it.)

2. If you hear the "F" word, or related expressions, say "hey, watch your language, there are kids around!" -- in a firm but nice way. Many of the youth are actually embarrassed when they forget, and they say "uh, sorry." Feedback is very helpful.

3. Give the rink staff a copy of your favourite low-key classical CD. The rink staff will be playing a little quiet music inside from time to time, to shift the tone.

It takes a village to raise a youth. And mixed in among these youthful goofballs are a few very troubled and unhappy youth whose family circumstances are rough, and sad. Some use the park as their winter home, and the rink staff work with them especially. These kids can use substantial kindness, and firm guidance too. Every little bit helps.

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