A New (and Growing) Resource for Island Youth
The next time you visit Open Space, you may find yourself in orbit… no rocket boosters needed.
As a community-centric organization, and members of the community ourselves, we’re always looking for the best ways that our space can serve the Vashon area. Over the years, one issue always seems to reemerge:
“There are not enough teen-centered spaces and activities on the island.”
That’s why this year marks the beginning of ORBIT, a program specifically designed for the high school-aged youth of Vashon. The mission of ORBIT is to create a gathering place driven by young people’s voices and visions to connect, create and celebrate. Since opening this fall, ORBIT has hosted several events, and has partnered with renowned local organizations to bring compelling programming to area teens.
The process began this spring, when Open Space’s new youth program coordinator Veronica Aristeo joined the team. An experienced youth development professional with Seattle roots and credentials spanning from the Bay Area to New Orleans, Veronica wanted to tailor a program to be exactly what the teens of Vashon are looking for. As quoted in Beachcomber, “I did a lot of reaching out to youth all summer long to find out what people want this to be. I spoke to high school counselors and art teachers, folks at the DoVE project, StudentLink, and went out to Strawberry Festival with clipboards and surveys, and stopped every teen I saw.”
Research culminated in a successful open house this September. Attended by over 30 participants, the open house featured a DJ, photo booth, and of course some tasty snacks. Insight and suggestions gathered from the open house contributed to the initiative’s second event, a well-attended dance party on October 12th. Due to the success of that event, “Teen Nights” have been scheduled for the second Saturday of each month. Luckily, that means that the next one is this weekend!
ORBIT has not only proven to be a positive space for local teens through its own programming, but has been a great resource for outside youth organizations. For example, ORBIT is a meeting area for Sisterhood and Journeymen each Thursday. Each Wednesday, Seattle’s famous Lambert House offers a drop-in program dedicated to LGBTQ youth, and on Fridays, UMO Ensemble offers a free gym day.
What’s Next for ORBIT?
ORBIT’s fall selections have received positive feedback from participants and parents alike, but the future elections aren’t concrete.
Why? Because we want to hear from you!
“Bring us your vision, and let’s see how we can make it happen”
-Veronica Aristeo, Youth Program Coordinator
Please let us know your thoughts and suggestions in order to offer even more options to our local youth community in a way that truly serves our young people.
Questions? Comments? Ready to learn more?
Visit https://www.openspacevashon.com/4teens/ or email Veronica@openspacevashon.com. Also available on Instagram @orbit_openspace