Parents for decades have wondered what their children should do between the time school lets out and the work day ends. On Roosevelt Island, a small, two-mile-long island nestled in the East River between Manhattan and Queens, there are new solutions that are helping keep the island community vibrant and its children protected.
Once school lets out for the day, the island's children practically run to the Roosevelt Island Youth Center. Happy voices and laughter fill the structure, newly renovated and expanded to take care of the island's youngest and most precious residents, arriving to take part in a wide range of activities, including yoga, chess, science, art, and many other interests that the children enjoy. These activities not only give the children something to do when school is done for the day, but it also provides great benefits for working family.
Shelton Haynes and His Legacy
As the project that Shelton Haynes, CEO of the Roosevelt Island Corporation, considers integral to his legacy, the Youth Center provides a place for the island's most precious resources to be protected during hours when they are most vulnerable. “The time after the school bell rings, up to when they go home, those hours are the most critical.”
As a number of studies have shown, youth crime is often correlated with unsupervised after-school time. Instead of allowing this to happen on Roosevelt Island, Haynes, and the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation focused on updating the Youth Center to keep kids occupied during the peak times of juvenile crime, between the hours of 2:00 PM and 6:00 PM during weekdays. This information is verified by the nonprofit Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, which also helps keep children productive during this vital timeframe.
Keeping The Youth Safe On RIOC
Shelton Haynes notes that the most up-to-date information from the nonprofit shows that 26% of juvenile crime happens during this timeframe, which often includes theft, assault, and drug crimes. By providing locations for support and enrichment, such as the Roosevelt Island Youth Center, children are being kept safe and active. These centers have also been shown to improve the children's social, emotional, and academic development, allowing them to learn valuable life skills, explore the arts, improve or maintain physical health, and form strong bonds with others in the community.
It is recognized that breaking the cycles that can lead to youth crime is one of the best options to turn around these types of patterns. “In society, whatever cycles there are, you start with the young people and ensure they have a chance.” Knowing that youth are the future of Roosevelt Island, Haynes' commitment to keeping that future safe is one of the reasons why he's so proud of the progress and assistance that the Youth Center provides to the Island's youth.
Strong Sense Of Community
He has seen the Roosevelt Island Youth Center has the potential to become a place where kids "can come to be safe. We can be entrusted with that because the youths are well taken care of,” said Shelton Haynes during a recent interview.
With strong strategic plans in place for the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, Shelton Haynes has a vision of the future where the island not only retains its strong sense of community but also grows exponentially long into the future. These plans provide a range of opportunities for growth, sustainable development, economic opportunity, and public safety, giving the small island community a bright and promising future.