Have You Heard?
I was talking last week with a mom whose 6th grade son attends the 3 Mile Project. She was politely inquiring about our plan to flip-flop the nights we’re open for 5th and 6th graders and high school students and I could tell by our conversation that there was a question on her mind that she didn’t quite know how to ask. Finally, she admitted that her son had told her that the reason for the switch in nights was due to specific behavioral issues that we were experiencing with our high school visitors on Saturday nights.
I think the first thing out of my mouth was, “Oh my word, really??” I assured her that the reason we changed nights was simply because we wanted to be available to more students (please see our previous blog post). I think I also said something like, “If we were having those kinds of problems, how would changing the night change the behavior?” but, frankly, I was so taken aback that I’m not completely sure what else I might have added.
Because I’m so constantly surrounded by the good stuff happening here, I’m always amazed when I stumble across the occasional rumors and stories about this place that have absolutely no grounding in fact. But I also remember that game we played as children in which we whispered a story down a line of friends and were amazed at how different the tale became by the time it reached the end. That’s one of the reasons we’re excited about this blog. We’re hoping that we can address some of these misconceptions by openly and honestly sharing what happens here.
Here are some facts. We’ve been open for nearly 3 years and 3 months. In that time we’ve been visited by 14,463 different young people during our regular open hours (and a whole bunch more during rentals and other events!). Of these students we currently have a list of 32 who are not welcome back (less than one quarter of one percent of the total number of young people who have visited us). These 32 have been banned from future entry for a variety of poor choices, including fighting, theft, bullying, and destruction of property. The majority of these incidents occurred within the first few months of our opening during a time when students were figuring out how serious we are about our behavioral expectations.
We work hard to maintain a safe, positive, and loving environment here. Much of the credit for that goes to our staff and volunteers. We are blessed to have an amazing group of people who give of their time in an effort to create a place that is different from the world surrounding us. We’re not perfect. We’re not a part of every interaction or conversation that takes place here. But we are absolutely committed to doing all that we can to provide a place that is a refuge from all of the ugliness out there. Beyond that, the young people who visit us deserve some credit. They have bought into the idea that they have a responsibility for what happens here. And it didn’t take them long after we first opened our doors to start playing an active role in protecting their little sanctuary.
It’s easy for me to talk about how blessed we’ve been when it comes to student behavior here. But, as we’re often told, talk can be cheap. So don’t take my word for it. Come and spend an evening here with me. Or, better yet, sign up to volunteer and see for yourself! And, of course, if you ever hear any rumors about this place that concern you I’d love to hear from you. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to answer your questions!
– Stan, Executive Director