By Jasmine Weis
On Jan. 22, the Kyle Hyland Foundation raised enough money to open up the Benicia Teen Center, a designated teens-only zone that’s hard to come by in small towns like Benicia. The foundation, created in honor of Kyle Hyland, a Benicia High School junior who died by suicide when he was 16 years old, aims to establish a safe space for kids to hang out and be themselves. I visited the center through an event it hosted for the Interact Club, and I was so impressed with the place, and those that ran it, that I was signed up as a volunteer the very next day.
As a fellow teenager, I know how we can be turned off by events or services aimed at “relating” to youth. I firmly believe that there is the urge to rebel embedded in the DNA of all adolescents. It’s the same force that drives us to ignore our mom’s pleas to bring a sweatshirt on cold days, even though we know they’re right (I learned that one the hard way). Because of this quirk in the teenage brain, I was skeptical before I visited the Teen Center, convinced that adults would never be able to format an informal setting that teenagers would actually feel comfortable in. So I have to give credit to the Teen Center, and those that designed it, for proving me wrong.