Life Skills, Support, and Recreation Services

During afterschool hours, Middle Earth offers teens constructive activities to occupy their free time, teaches life skills, and offers guidance, becoming a support system for youth who would otherwise not have one, in the hopes of intervening prior to troubled behavior and teaching them the skills needed to become responsible adults.

Middle Earth becomes a "home away from home" for many kids, a place to go instead of "hanging out" on the street. Teens who are unsupervised during afterschool hours are 37% more likely to become teen parents and 49% more likely to use drugs. In addition, juvenile crime triples during afterschool hours. By engaging youth in fun activities during these times, we help them avoid these risky behaviors.

We offer these specific programs to help the youth in our community engage in positive activities:

youth centersJOURNEYS Program at Community Youth Centers

The Middle Earth Community Youth Centers provide youth a safe, structured, and supervised place during out-of-school hours to gather for fun activities, interact positively with their peers, learn life skills, and talk to caring adults.

Any and all Somerset County youth between age 12-18 are welcome at the Centers. Special services are offered to youth who are engaging in risky behaviors, who have poor school attendance or performance, who are experiencing difficulties, or who need extra support.

Our comprehensive service centers provide an array of benefits to youth all in one location, including:

  • positive recreation (such as pool and ping pong tables, TV, DVD player, stereo, exercise equipment, board and video games, basketball, arts and crafts materials, cameras, computers, and a bulletin board of planned activities),
  • caring and supportive adults who act as role models and mentors,
  • group meetings and workshops,
  • certified teachers for tutoring and academic support,
  • community service opportunities,
  • college preparedness,
  • employment readiness skills (such as resume-writing and interviewing),
  • life skills education (e.g. cooking, obtaining a driver’s license, financial literacy, independent living),
  • character development lessons (such as anger management, leadership and positive decision-making),
  • fun incentive trips as rewards, and
  • crisis intervention and referral services.

Youth are able to “walk-in” during Center hours to access any of the services mentioned above for free. We offer these Centers:

  • Bound Brook Community Youth Center. This Center is open Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 3-6 p.m., and is located at the Codrington Park Field House in Bound Brook.
  • Manville Community Youth Center. This Center is open Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays from school dismissal to 6 p.m., and is located in the cafeteria of Manville High School.
  • Franklin Community Youth Center. This Center is open Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 3-6 p.m., and is located at 935 Hamilton Street in Somerset.
  • Linkages. This Center is available to all students at the Somerset County Vocational-Technical High School throughout the year during school hours. Middle Earth offers recreation and outreach services to the students, in order to provide safe and positive leisure activities, and identify youth who are in need of special services.

The Art House
The ART House

This program, which is available in all 3 of our Community Youth Centers, helps to decrease risky behavior by teaching at-risk youth to safely and confidently express themselves. Studies have proven that exposure to the arts improves self-esteem and confidence, academic performance, cognitive skills, and motivation in youth.

Professional artists conduct monthly workshops in the areas of Music, Theater, or Visual Arts, mimicking an apprenticeship. After the workshop, students will exercise these skills daily, after school, by working on projects, which can include, but are not limited to: improvisational skits, single scene plays, dance, collaborative murals, individual art work, and songwriting with music. Youth also take educational trips to local museums, performances, and studios, as part of their exposure and learning experience. The Art House provides opportunities for youth to showcase their work or perform their talents for the community, friends and family.