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Students play indoor volleyball at a New Year's Eve lock-in at the Crawford County Youth Service Bureau at Marengo. (Photo by Lee Cable)

YSB rings in new year

January 07, 2009
It's 10 p.m. on New Year's Eve. Do you know where your kids are?

Several parents in Crawford County knew exactly where their children were on New Year's Eve — safely placed at the annual all-night lock-in at the Crawford County Youth Service Bureau at Marengo.

The event, which has been held several years, encourages young people to stay off the streets and away from danger by participating or helping with the festivities. Those attending begin arriving around 7 p.m., and once there, they are not allowed to leave until 7 the following morning unless picked up by a parent or guardian.

This year, there were a variety of activities offered, including video games, billiards, Twister, karaoke, movies, foosball, volleyball, corn hole and a jump rope contest.

"I come because it's fun here," Shelby Crecelius, 13, said. "Actually, I come here almost every weekend. There's always something going on and things to do. And I get to see a lot of my friends. The people here are always nice."

Many New Year celebrations are focused on adults, and often young people have few options because places they normally go to are closed during the holidays.

"We try to offer the kids a safe place to have fun," said Becky Smith, who works in the YSB office and volunteers for evening and weekend events. "We've been doing these for years, and the kids always have a good time. And we also do other lock-ins during the year, including one when school lets out for the summer. That lets the kids hang out with friends who they may not see during the summer months."

Many of those attending the lock-in this year were older students — juniors and even seniors — who, through the years, have attended the alternative school at the YSB and developed a good relationship — even a friendship — with the staff and come back year after year to help out, and to have fun.

"I first came here in the sixth grade," Willie Grumbo, a senior at Crawford County High School, said. "Actually, I've been coming to take classes here recently to catch up on some work I was behind in. I've always liked to come here. I like to help out, so I volunteer here now, plus I just like to have fun. Becky and everybody treats us with a lot of respect. They are all really nice people."

The YSB helps students from ages 11 to 17 (18 if still in school) in a variety of programs including:

•FIT (Families in Transition) — a program to help parents to respond more appropriately to their children's divorce-related concerns.

•CASH (Crawford Alternative School House) — a school program for students who may not be able to attend a traditional educational environment but want to continue to gain credit for graduation.

•Tutoring — one-on-one tutoring is available free during after-school hours.

•Camp Discovery — a program for youth to attend the Indiana State Police Camp and learn about careers in law enforcement.

•CARe (Communities Against Rape Initiative) — a program that educates junior high youth about sexual assault and rape awareness.

•Youth Development — youth activities focus on developmental assets that are essential to healthy youth.

The YSB also works with students who have been suspended or expelled from their regular school and helps them keep up their work and attend classes until their suspension is completed.

The center also has weekend activities for youth ages 11 to 17 every Friday and Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. except holidays.

On New Year's Eve, the students began the evening a little slowly. One young man was shooting pool alone, while two more were playing a video game. Other kids were watching the movie "Footloose" on the big-screen TV, and some were just hanging around talking. But, then, someone challenged someone else to a rope-jumping contest and the action started. Soon, several kids were playing the Twister game, contorting their bodies in every way imaginable. Someone else put on a party hat and a pair of 2009 novelty glasses, and before long, everyone was caught up in the New Year's spirit.

"I've been coming here since I was in the fifth or sixth grade," Carrie Mitchell, a junior at CCHS, said. "We always have a lot of fun, and Becky is really good to us. I'll probably be here next year, too."

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