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Mar 6, 2010 1:11 AM by Ariel Wesler

Safe recreation programs for Santa Maria teens

With MotionZ laser tag closing down later this month at the Santa Maria Town Center, that's one less option for teens looking for some fun after school. Still, there are other safe alternatives.

While Santa Maria leaders work on solving the city's gang problem, one way to keep santa maria teens off the streets is to give them something to do.

"Whether it's foster kids or teens that have been in trouble, they know that they can come here for that safe environment," said Chris Economo, a recreation technician.

The Abel Maldonado Youth Center offers free after-school programs for 7th-12th graders. . .a chance to breakaway from those pesky grownups.

"It's pretty much adult free with the exception of a couple supervisors. They pretty much have the freedom to choose their activities that want to take part in whether it's games or sports or movies," Economo said.

On average, the center sees around 50 kids, but it can accomdate a couple hundred. Across town, the Santa Maria Valley YMCA offers some recreation of its own. Teens can use just the skatepark for $5 a day or all the facilities for $22 a month.

"The boys really like the free weight room and the girls like to take the classes but we get a mix and match," said Shannon Seifert, Santa Maria Valley YMCA Chief Executive Officer.

Even if they just go to hang out with friends,

"They're here and they're doing something healthy for themselves and they're in a structured environment," Seifert said.

No matter what activity you choose to do, the goal of these two organizations remains the same, keeping teens safe, busy, and out of trouble.

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