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East County Youth Program May Expand to Germantown

Montgomery County Council committee votes to fund evening and weekend social clubs in other areas of Montgomery County.

An evening and weekend social program for youths in East Montgomery County could be replicated in other parts of the county. 

County Executive Isiah Leggett’s proposed budget set aside $128,000 for evening and weekend youth activities and included the possibility of establishing Teen Escapes Clubs Upcounty, to serve Germantown and Damascus, in Silver Spring and the Bethesda-Potomac area. 

Council's planning, housing and economic development (PHED) committee voted rencently to fund the teen escape club expansion for the next fiscal year.

The full council will take up the recreation department’s budget next week. 

Currently,  offers monthly events for teens at the East County Community Center. Activities that range from basketball tournaments to talent shows to summer festivals are organized by high school students and are staffed by the county’s recreation department.

County Council Vice-President Nancy Navarro (D-Dist. 4), whose youth advisory group proposed the idea in 2010, said the clubs were "an extraordinary example of what can be done with very little money." 

The first year of East County’s teen escape club was funded with $15,000; the county executive’s proposed budget would provide $30,000 in personnel costs and an additional $4,500 for programming.

Recreation staff leveraged community partnerships to save costs, Navarro said at a recent PHED meeting. Police officers volunteered time for security and some food has been donated.

Gabriel Albornoz, director of Montgomery County's recreation department, said he would like to see similar programs funded in the county’s 2013 budget. 

"The proposal for the enhancement of teen programs is part of a broader strategy to establish programs year-round for at-risk teens," Albornoz said, "especially for communities that really need these programs."

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