Northwest NEWS

September 3, 2001

Front Page

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Teen Northshore: what's ahead

by Bronwyn Wilson
   Senior staff reporter
   From making a film titled "Can of Sex" to displaying a classic car, many unique opportunities are available to teens through Teen Northshore, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the community's youth needs.
   The Magic Lantern Film Workshop is one of the organization's many programs. Its most recent project, a public service announcement (PSA) called "Can of Sex," will run on local and national television stations. The33-second spots were created by the teens that participated in the workshop. Program Director Mark Carstersen teaches teens to edit and shoot film. He said, "The 'Can of Sex' is our most recent three-PSA series to promote abstinence." The film shows teens they don't have to fall into the pressure of the teenage norm. To illustrate, one spot begins with a boy and girl on their way to the prom. A mystery salesman suddenly appears on the scene with an enticing proposal, "Oh, you're going to the prom?" he asks. He holds up a can and says, "Here's what you need, 'Can of Sex.'" The teens glance at one another, skeptical of the salesman and his offer. The PSA ends stating, "Don't buy this." Said Carstersen, "We kind of took a tongue-in-cheek humor approach." The film workshop was given a grant to produce the abstinence campaign. Carstersen, a freelance filmmaker, wrote the script with a student and actor Pat Cashman from "Almost Live" furnished the voice of the salesman.
   "It's like you're watching a real movie," said Gary Gardner, executive director for Teen Northshore. Gardner explained that top-of-the-line video equipment was used to produce the broadcast quality film. He also said that the teens' next PSA project would offer reasons that teens should not smoke.
   The organization offers other opportunities that are popular with teens, such as the Auto Show held every May. This is the occasion for teens to showcase their cars in competition. Said Gardner, "It's for teens who have built their own cars and own their own cars."
   Gardner, who came on board as Executive Director in January 2001, knows teen interests. He's been talking with high school students in the community and learning what their needs are. Many told him that they don't have anything to do and spend much of their time hanging out. "The whole concept of Teen Northshore is to be a voice for the kids and bring the community together with the teens," said Gardner. He mentioned that Teen Northshore wants to reach all teens, including those who don't ordinarily take the initiative to get involved. School counselors and principals can help, he said, by bringing attention to the program. Also, a Teen Northshore youth council made up of one representative from each junior high and high school in the Northshore School District will start in the fall. The group will meet twice a month to discuss teen issues and plan teen activities. According to Gardner, the council will hear all views in a nonjudgmental atmosphere. "I want it to be a safe place that meets all teen ideas."
   Teens can discover more about Teen Northshore on the Internet. "We're working on our Web site, getting that up and running," said Gardner. The Web site informs teens what's going on, what's happening and how to become a member. "This year I'm forming a membership," Gardner said, explaining that teens fill out a membership application via computer. There is no fee. But the benefits are many. Members can participate in Free Movie Day, a day when movie tickets are already paid for. Members also receive discounts at restaurants, office, video and music stores. "Every month we'll have a drawing for gift certificates," said Gardner. "A drawing for Microsoft's X-box is planned."
   The plan is to serve teens through the support of organizations and businesses in the community. Said Gardner, "My vision [of Teen Northshore] is one organization that will bring Woodinville, Kenmore, Bothell and the Northshore School District together as partners."
   In the past, the organization relied on donations from cities and counties. But recently, funding decreased by eighty percent when cities looked at the number of teens active in Teen Northshore as opposed to the number of teens residing in the community. The cities asked Teen Northshore to come back with a plan that would bring more teens to the organization. "They want to see results," said Gardner. "Do I see it being a problem? No. We have a strong enough community to raise the funds to support Teen Northshore." He added, "You're probably not going to see results until next spring." In the coming year, Gardner plans to speak to students at school assemblies about the organization and how it can benefit them. "Lots of students haven't heard of Teen Northshore," he said.
   Gardner speaks with enthusiasm as he describes the future. "The concept of Teen Northshore is huge versus where it has been," he said. For example, the Teen Northshore program Teenwork provides job opportunities. Gardner wants to expand the program by also providing the tools that teens need to obtain a job, such as offering classes on how to interview and write a resume. Plus, he will seek internships for teens at major companies.
   A future program will involve teens going out into the schools, adopting a class and finding what the class needs are. If a class states a desire to do an art project, the teen will talk to local businesses about donating art supplies. Gardner also envisions a future program that will bring former Teen Northshore members back to the high schools to discuss what students can expect when attending college.
   Founded by Gretchen Garth and Woodinville Weekly publisher Carol Edwards,
   Teen Northshore came together in 1987 following an increase in teen substance abuse and violence, including a teen homicide in Woodinville. The organization widened its boundaries to include the entire Northshore School District in 1988.
   How teens can get involved in
   Teen Northshore:
   Web site: www.teennorthshore.org
   E-mail: whats_up@teennorthshore.org
   Call the message line:
   (206) 344-6417
   For teens wanting more information about the "Magic Lantern Film Workshop" or want to join:
   E-mail Mark Carstersen: Mark@tribe4.com