White Center Teen Program helps local youth thrive

The White Center Community Center, also known as the Log Cabin at Steve Cox Memorial Park, houses King County Parks’ White Center Teen Program and serves the community by fostering a safe positive place for local youth to partake in recreational and educational programs.

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The Log Cabin at Steve Cox Memorial Park

The goal of WCTP is to reduce youth involvement in violent, criminal or gang-related activities and increase young people’s connection to community through civic and volunteer opportunities.

“We want to keep them out of trouble, and we want to also keep them in school,” said Darlene Sellers, Recreation Coordinator for Natural Resources and Parks. “We are trying to provide every youth in White Center with recreation.”

The WCTP has 1,400 registered kids age 12-19, and has served more than 26,000 kids since its creation in 1991. More than 80 percent of the teens attending the program are from White Center, and more than 30 languages and dialects are spoken.

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Program participants enjoying a game of basketball.

The program, which takes place five days a week, has raised high school graduation rates among participants by 19 percent and more than 200 youth participants have earned their GEDs.

The community center offers a recreation room, basketball court, outdoor fields, a playground, cooking classes, gardening lessons, college application help, homework tutoring, free dinner, kendo martial arts, visual and performing arts classes, and the youth also volunteer throughout the community. WCTP volunteers annually during White Center Refresh, formerly known as White Center Spring Clean, picking up litter and painting murals.

“Kids are taking pride in their neighborhood, and the work that they are putting into it,” said Sellers. “They are also able to put their community service on their resumes.”

Their program is also connecting young people to employment. The recent 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament and Job Fair known as Peace N the Hood was hosted by WCTP June 8, and it led to 46 kids receiving job offers.

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Program participants attend a Peace N the Hood Job Fair

Steve Cox Memorial Park is currently undergoing renovations to improve conditions and better serve local youth. The project will construct a multi-use synthetic turf athletic field with LED lights and a ten-foot-wide paved walking path around the perimeter. The field will be lined for soccer, lacrosse, and two baseball diamonds.

For more information on the White Center Teen Program and Steve Cox Memorial Park, contact ParksInfo@KingCounty.gov.