Family Enriched by Youth Center

Laurie Hanson
(L-R) Zoe, Dave, Liz and Clark

When 5-year-old Clark came to the Youth Center in Los Alamitos he was experiencing severe behavioral problems, not getting along with other children and having a hard time making friends. His mother didn’t know how to help her young, gifted son.

As a Long Beach resident who graduated Los Alamitos High School, she had grown up in Los Alamitos all her life. She sought help for adequate, supervised and affordable childcare while she works full time as a home health physical therapist and her husband, Dave, works as a program director for a behavior health company.

Now age 10, Clark has learned to get along with others and have friends thanks to having a safe place to go to after school, according to his mother. “He’s grown out of being anxious,” she said. “He’s learned conflict resolution, and it [the Youth Center After School Program] gives him a chance to not be overstimulated.”

For the less frequent times now when he does get experience sensory overload, Clark can now work to calm himself with the help of Youth Center staff intervention. “Julie has him come into her office for chill time,” Coulter said. Julie Rubin is the program & operations manager at The Youth Center.

He also gets added support from staff in doing homework, something that’s helped Clark manage his time better. If he gets stuck with a math problem, Youth Center staff works with him to find a solution, according to his mother.

Coulter also found the drop-in aspect of the After School Program to be refreshing in that she can take her son to a doctor’s appointment, then treat him to a favorite drink afterwards, all the while Clark’s 5-year-old sister, Zoe, is engaged in arts and crafts or while playing with her friends at the center.

Both children have attended the Youth Center’s Kid’s Night Out and Summer Camp. Clark is taking guitar lessons through the Youth Center’s Music Program. This coupled with various activities throughout the year for her family has enriched their lives, Coulter said.

“My kids would rather stay longer at the After School Program than be picked up early,” she said. “They get to do activities that they normally wouldn’t do at home. We don’t really know our neighbors on our street, so the Youth Center provides a sense of community for us. Here, we’ve gotten to know some of the families and arrange outside activities with them.”

With their friends, Clark and Zoe enjoy all that’s offered at the Youth Center. Clark has met some older middle schoolers, getting along very well with them due in part because he’s a gifted child enrolled in Long Beach Unified School District’s Gifted And Talented Education (GATE) program. He also plays the clarinet at school, sings in the choir and takes karate lessons. Just this last weekend, he learned to play the ukulele, alongside his father, who himself plays guitar and drums. Zoe takes dance lessons at a private studio in Cypress.

“We’ve been really happy here at the Youth Center,” Coulter said. “I tell everyone about it.”

Submitted by the Youth Center



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