Nothing about us, without us

Last week I had the opportunity to tour Kaleidoscope Youth Center (KYC), an organization that works to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth and their allies. Back in April of this year Kaleidoscope moved their space from North High Street to a beautiful 5,000 square foot home on Town Street. Because I have been thinking through how to best create a space for the teens at Southpoint, I realized I could learn a lot from the process KYC went through when they had the opportunity to re-imagine and create a new space for the youth the serve.

Siobhan Boyd-Nelson, the Development and Marketing Manager for Kaleidoscope, met with me to give me a tour of the house.  One of the more striking and beautiful parts of the space is that every room is painted a different bright and bold color. KYC youth chose the color palette – one of the many ways they contributed to the development of the space.  As we walked around I got to see their living room, creative arts space, computer and tech area, kitchen and snack area, library and my favorite part – a performing arts stage.  KYC staff had youth do a collage of what they wished to see in their new youth center, and most of it has come to life there in a beautiful way.

Siobhan and I discussed the importance of youth being directly involved in the design of a space; without their by in the space will end up not being utilized and lack meaning for youth. At KYC, youth helped in the development of principles that everyone must follow when spending time in the space. KYC has monthly meetings where youth can give feedback and input about things that are and aren’t working, and contribute ideas.  I hope to find a way to adapt the same guidelines that KYC utilized for the purposes of a teen space at Southpoint.

For more information about the services that Kaleidoscope Youth Center offers check out their website here.

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