Press "Enter" to skip to content

New Safety Prevention and Resource Center will help support youth and their families

Employees, chamber members and others line up for the ribbon-cutting of the Safety Prevention and Resource Center in Idaho Falls Thursday afternoon. | Rett Nelson,
IDAHO FALLS – Community Youth in Action and the Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce celebrated the opening of the Safety Prevention and Resource Center Thursday afternoon with a ribbon-cutting and open house.
The goal of the building at 554 4th Street is to “foster and create healthy relationships to support youth and their families,” according to a news release.
CYA’s Executive Director Becky Leatham tells SPARC is a prevention organization designed to connect youth and families with resources in a variety of areas, whether it’s mental health, financial or academic struggles.
“Our job is to work with kids before they’re in the juvenile justice system,” Leatham says. “We can sit down with those families beforehand and try to head off the problems before they start.”
Leatham cites an instance last year where a kid dropped out of school because he was being bullied. The reason he was being picked on is because he didn’t have any deodorant. They were able to provide him with deodorant so that he could return to school and not deal with kids picking on him anymore.
“If we can intervene on simple little things like a kid with no deodorant, then we can save these kids from a lot of heartache down the road,” says Leatham.
Others come in because they’ve dropped out of school and want to know how to get their GED.
Some kids come because they want to participate in extracurricular activities but don’t have the financial resources to do so. SPARC and other branches of CYA can help provide scholarships so they can participate in the activity that interests them and even provide free classes at the center.
One of the most common things Leatham has seen is kids coming in who need glasses, but aren’t aware their Medicaid coverage allows them to get glasses at no cost.
“They knew that every couple of years they could (schedule) an appointment, but if they were in between that, they didn’t know who to call to get (glasses) shipped to (them) and fill that need. That’s an area where we’re helping people out a lot,” Leatham says. took a tour of the building, which offers an environment that’s similar to a house. There are three rooms with couches and a fold-out bed. It has a kitchen area, bathrooms, shower and even a playroom for parents who bring little children to the center.

This is the first thing you see when you enter the front door at SPARC. | Rett Nelson,
Stephanie Bond, the director of SPARC, says the idea is to give kids who are struggling a place to come that’s safe and comfortable until they’re in the right headspace again. It also gives employees time to determine what their specific needs are so they know how to help or where to refer them.
Bond relates with some of the things these kids go through because she was in the juvenile justice system as a teenager. She later ended up in felony drug court as an adult.
Leatham worked for a similar organization prior to CYA and Bond was introduced to her during this time. Bond received a lot of assistance from supportive adults to help her through a difficult time, which ultimately resulted in her felonies being dismissed.
“If I hadn’t had those adults in my life pushing me to be better and telling me I didn’t have to be a product of my environment, (I’m not sure I would’ve made it),” Bond says.
The mission of SPARC is something she could get behind and it inspired her to get involved.

Stephanie Bond, the director of SPARC. | Rett Nelson,
Leatham and a group of teens formed CYA in 2018. The Liv Teen Center is another branch of the nonprofit, which is named for one of its teen founders, Olivia Johnson, who was killed in a car crash a few days after its launch.
RELATED | 17-year-old Shelley teen dies of injuries from car crash
It offers after school enrichment activities for youth, including tutoring, classes and support groups.
“We offer daily transportation from all secondary schools in Idaho Falls, Shelley and Rigby to the center,” Traci, Liv Teen Center’s director, writes on Facebook. She did not include her last name. “All teens are invited to participate in our leadership group where they learn to be leaders in their communities and have access to some pretty cool opportunities! Each evening transportation home is provided.”
RELATED | Governor highlights $50M investment in behavioral health
Earlier this year, Gov. Brad Little signed a bill designating $50 million specifically for behavioral health issues in the state. A portion of that money, along with other grant funds, was used to fund the center for the first year, which means all the services are free of charge to those who use it.
“After the first year, we will have to find a way to sustain it. So, that’s going to be the long-term (goal),” says Leatham. “As we grow, we hope to be able to have (more resources available for those who visit).”

The entrance at Community Youth in Action. | Rett Nelson,
The post New Safety Prevention and Resource Center will help support youth and their families appeared first on East Idaho News.

Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    %d bloggers like this: