Grapeland gives their teens something to do

By Morgan Thomas - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – Teenagers are notorious for whining 'I'm bored...', when they're out of school, but in small towns the reality is there is actually not much to do.

Most teenagers aren't typically into antique shopping, drinking coffee at a gas station or working around the house. For Grapeland teens, this leaves little to do when they're not in school.

"Saw there was nothing for the kids to do, nothing to keep them off the streets, " said Tommy Sprinkle, Chief Teen Center Organizer.

Tommy Sprinkle moved to Grapeland full-time after he retired. He felt there was something the community could do to create a place for their young adults.

"We decided let's just go make it happen," said Sprinkle.

'It' was a teen center. He started kicking the idea around with others in the community and realized there was a lot of support.

"In rural areas there's just not a whole lot for kids to do," said Mark Stephenson, Grapeland Youth Pastor and Teen Center Organizer.

Funding the project, was made easier through private grants. With cash-in-hand for start-up costs, the Grapeland teen center is now on its way to becoming a reality.

"So that's taken care of as far as the remodeling that needs to take place, buying the equipment," said Sprinkle.

"Excited to see progress already being made to the building," said Mike Tindall, Teen Center Organizer.

For the teen center's organizers the mission was clear: create a positive, clean alternative to the negative ones that small towns seem to be able to provide.

It's those other options that worries Mark Stephenson who also grew up in a small town.

"All we had were tailgate parties," said Stephenson.

The task of gearing up a teen center with stuff teens like to do is at the top of the list.

"We're going to have a couple of pool tables. We're going to have an air hockey table," said Sprinkle.

Safety is another top concern. The adult volunteers will undergo extensive background checks and rules will be posted.

but it will still be a place for teens to relax and just have fun.

"We don't want to make it so regulatory that they're afraid to even cross the street," said Stephenson.

They hope to get the teen center up and running before school is out for the summer.

At first, the center will be open once a week and eventually add more days.

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