Youth ERA goes underused by student body

Upon entering their second year at LOHS, the “pop-up Youth drop” has seen dwindling attendance.

According to its website, Youth ERA is an Oregon-based nonprofit that provides “accessible support services to all young people,” focusing on “direct service, training and advocacy—the building blocks for creating lasting change for young people in communities across the country.” The organization’s services include “drop sites” where teens can receive peer support, play games, eat snacks, connect with community activism and receive help with goals such as homework and resume-building. The LOHS “pop-up drop” debuted last year, with meetings held every Tuesday during lunch in room 208.

Last year, the drop served mainly as a safe, relaxing place to hang out and eat lunch. “[Our] Services [include] anything from working on goals or just being able to come to a safe place and hang out and have virtual reality games, different [board] games and coloring. We’re trying to do more activities, but we want to receive youth input on what kind of activities they would want to do,” said Caitlan Wentz, a supervisor of the LOHS drop.

Alongside virtual reality games and relaxation, the LOHS drop can offer a wide range of services. “We offer… one on one [peer support] services that can be provided here or outside of school hours… and can be working towards any kind of goal, whether it’s saving $20 for a video game or working on college applications or something super simple that you wanted help working on. We’re also just people that are relatable that you can talk to and feel safe around. We also… have our drop-in center in downtown Milwaukee as well… Sometimes you meet to just check-in and grab a coffee and make sure you have that support. It’s not always 100 percent working hard towards a goal every week. If you just want someone to talk to, that’s what [the LO Drop] is all about.”

So far this year, zero students have attended the LOHS drop according to Wentz. About six students attended regularly last year, though attendance fluctuated greatly.

“This year’s been difficult because a lot of the students who took advantage of their services and found it helpful graduated,” said assistant principal Ryan Rosenau, who helped coordinate the LOHS branch of Youth ERA. “A lot of the students last year were helping to recruit others… and without [them], attendance fizzled.” In hopes of spreading awareness and boosting attendance, ASB has launched a social media campaign advertising Youth ERA’s services. Signs and banners have also been posted around the school.