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Teen Explosion at Aldine Y.O.U.T.H. draws young people from across the City

By P.J. Williams

Over 150 teens descend on the Aldine Y.O.U.T.H. the last Friday of every month for Teen Explosion. The young adults come from as far as Katy, Galena Park, Channel View, Humble, and Southwest Houston and as close by as down the street.

Attendance steadily increased since its inception three years ago. A record number of teens, 180, attended in January. February’s attendance was almost as high. “It’s been growing by leaps and bounds,” said director Sylvia Bolling.

An exciting variety of events entice youth to come back every month. “Every Teen Explosion is totally different,” said Don Jones, program director.

February’s meeting featured skits by Drama Extreme, an open mike, and a talk from professional boxer Guadalupe Lupé Martinez, who is 7-0.

March will offer teens an opportunity to play a variety of video games while listening to the positive hip-hop of Fire of Infinity. They will also be able to check out Game Stop’s Hummers on the front lawn.

While there is always something different, Teen Explosion regularly offers food, a positive message, and a presentation from Operation Outreach. Founded three years ago, Operation Outreach is a group of rehabilitated drug users who share their personal stories about how they got into drugs, the negative affects it had, and how their lives changed for the better after they quit.

At February’s Teen Explosion, one Operation Outreach member told how he went from a good job as a UPS driver and firefighter to homeless after getting involved with drugs. Now clean, he is back on his feet and has a job as an engineer’s assistant. “It’s a path of destruction. If you go there, it’ll take you down,” he said.

Jones explained that Operation Outreach is an important part of Teen Explosion since some of the youth who attend the program must contend with the pressure to use drugs. “We bring in a lot of kids who have already dabbled in drugs and are in a group home,” he said.

Tiara Emmanuel agrees that this positive message attracts youth, “[Teen Explosion] inspires me & teaches me a lot of things I didn’t know before. It gives me a lot of activities I want to participate in.”