Teens can get a free membership at Hampton Roads YMCA locations this summer

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Local officials have said investing in activities and opportunities for young people could help get to the root of the teen crime problem. It’s a notion that the YMCA of South Hampton Roads is taking action on.

“Every moment you have in your life can change that person’s trajectory, and we always say that every child is a caring adult far from a success. And our buildings are filled with caring adults,” said Amelia Baker, South Hampton Roads Experience Manager.

That’s why local teens up to 18 will now have the chance to get free Y memberships as part of an effort to bring kids out of the home and the streets.

“A lot of the time they’re kids without keys, or they have nothing to do after school, or after-school activities are gone. I feel like an idle mind is the devil’s playground,” resident Ramona Neal said.

The program will run from June to August with programs specific to teenagers. The interested can complete an online membership form on their website or visit one of their sites with a parent or guardian.

“One of the most important things for young people is recreation…When you’re at home unsupervised, you start doing things you don’t have to do,” said Stanford Granger, a resident of Portsmouth.

You can also help. Anyone can sponsor a teenager by donating $25 for a month or $75 for the summer.

“It’s critical to know that all of these people are around you and want to provide that access,” Baker added.

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