The new building and program will provide a safe environment for youth after regular school hours, during various school breaks and during the summer months. Youth can participate in additional educational activities and opportunities available to youth between the ages of 10 and 18.

“A program such as the P.L.A.C.E. is important to our community because youth always benefit from multiple supportive and positive influences in their life, regardless of whether that may be a parent, another adult, or peers,” said BJ Trousdale, program coordinator, FireLodge Tribal Youth Program. “Our program seeks to provide an alternative to being a “latch-key” youth while their parents are away from the home for various reasons.”

Then new building will allow the P.L.A.C.E. to serve up to 100 youth per day. The afterschool program will begin when spring classes resume in January.

Studies indicate that nearly 8.4 million K-12 children participate in afterschool programs, but an additional 18.5 million would if a quality program was accessible and 58% of Native American consumers say they would enroll their children in afterschool programs if they were accessible.

“This facility is a space specifically designed and implemented with young people in mind and with their input,” added Trousdale. “It’s also a tool to help prepare our youth to be good students and good citizens in their local and tribal communities.”

The P.L.A.C.E. program has several goals:

  • To increase the number of Native American youth who graduate high school or obtain a GED and who learn to value an education and lead a productive life using the knowledge they’ve gained.
  • To prevent Native American youth from using or experimenting with alcohol and illegal substances and to also intervene and decrease the number of Native American youth who use or abuse alcohol and illegal substances.
  • To decrease the number of Native American youth who are referred for engaging in juvenile offenses and/or delinquency.
  • To decrease the number of Native American youth who are experiencing suicidal behaviors such as self-harm, suicide ideation, and completed suicides.
  • Increase the number of adults trained to serve as ASIST gatekeepers and the number of youth to serve as suicide prevention gatekeepers.
  • To encourage each youth’s optimal growth and development physically, mentally, and socially while fostering a positive self-image and a sense of independence.
  • To provide encouragement in development of leadership and cooperation among youth, adults, and elders.
  • To provide opportunities for youth to develop healthy peer relations and learn how to properly manage conflicts.
  • To provide a positive approach to discipline encouraging self-control and independence.
  • To assist youth in learning about their heritage and the importance of their culture in their daily lives.
  • To provide the highest standards of nutrition, cleanliness and safety and boost physical fitness in that environment.