Strong programs lead to bump in Stoughton Area Youth Center attendance

By: 
Mark Ignatowski

By the numbers
Stoughton Area Youth Center attendance
Year Attendance
2012 6,089
2011 4,951
2010 3,896
2009 5,503
2008 5,090
2007 6,408
2006 6,575
2005 7,477
2004 8,852
2003 5,969
2002 7,513

In the first full year with Greg Hoyte as director of the youth center, attendance has increased nearly 23 percent.

Hoyte said the increase is a result of quality programming at the center and the support from the community.

“I knew it was doable, but it looked hard when I first started,” Hoyte told the Hub. “It worked out so well, with all the awesome support from the community.”

Community support is what got Hoyte back into the Stoughton youth center. He was hired by the Friends of the Stoughton Area Youth Center group thanks to a grant from the Bryant Foundation. The city also kicked in $20,000 towards hiring Hoyte.

In his latest tenure as director, Hoyte has overseen the installation of many new programs.

Hoyte has helped implement an after school homework program, karate classes and community partnerships. Hoyte worked with Cummins Inc. to expand a technology lab in the basement.

“Stoughton is an awesome community to work in,” Hoyte said. “There’s a lot of support here.”

The youth center itself is a draw, too, Hoyte said. The center is currently housed in a remodeled tobacco warehouse near the railroad tracks on East Main Street. Previously, the youth center had been in the Stoughton EMS building. Volunteers poured countless hours into rehabbing the space and it reopened in October 2010.

It now includes a first floor with a kitchen, game areas, computer lab and study areas. The second floor was remodeled to have pool tables and a basketball court. Most recently, part of the basement was finished to make room for the site’s technology and design lab, complete with computer workstations, sewing machines and a 3-D printer.

Hoyte’s work drew praise from parks and recreation director Tom Lynch. While the city doesn’t directly oversee the youth center, Lynch said the city is pleased with the direction the youth center is heading.

“All the work it took to get him employed again, I think he’s delivered,” Lynch said. “I think it’s going like it should.”

Lynch and Hoyte both said they hope to continue the growth of the center. Hoyte hopes to focus more on providing quality programs for youth.

“We’re going to start doing more character development programs,” Hoyte said.

That means bringing in speakers who can help shape the minds of local youth in a positive way. For example, Hoyte said he hopes to bring in speakers to talk to girls about their self-image and the way they portray themselves.

“We want them to put a really positive image of themselves out there,” Hoyte said.

Boys, too, will benefit from a similar talk and might learn how to treat their peers with respect, Hoyte said.

“We’re trying to let kids know that they’re worth more,” Hoyte said. “We want to be making some real, true positive change in the kids that come to the youth center.”