(August 2023) In the Town of Rosman (Transylvania County), more than 60 percent of school age children are eligible for free breakfasts. From school records, we believe that 150 are at risk. Rosman has three schools, but with no youth center or focal point in the town, offers few activities after 3 p.m. For Rosman youth, the closest afterschool or summer programs are a one-way, ten-mile school bus ride away in Brevard. Some families utilize the bus, but most do not. Rosman Youth Support Center (RYSC) focuses on the majority who have nowhere to go after school and, particularly, on those that the schools classify as homeless (e.g. McKinney Vento Act) or at risk.
RYSC increases access to high quality, out-of-school programming for young people. Programs focus on a positive youth development model, which provides opportunities to learn skills and develop assets necessary to resist high-risk behaviors and succeed in life. RYSC works to ensure that participants receive essential support that helps them make connections and realize their potential.
RYSC started twelve months ago as a pilot program of Isaac Homes Youth Services (IHYS), located on the edge of Rosman and funded with charitable donations. With a part-time Executive Director, RYSC provided a safe educational and community space, from 3-7 p.m. on school days, to see if young people would use such a facility. By working with the schools to get an MOU in place and gaining the trust of the community, RYSC is now at capacity serving twelve students per day, on average.
Our plan is to move to a central location, walking distance from the middle and high school, and open a center capable of serving 45 youth every day. An expanded RYSC center will reach a wider group and provide clothes and shoes, food and personal hygiene products, especially for the girls, and warm sleeping bags, as an important first step to establishing trust and connection. A higher number of participants will also lower the cost per individual.
RYSC is an effective model for small mountain town America. We have discovered a way to check on and connect with teens. We engage every youth who walks through our doors, and we meet them where they are. Some want to talk, while others may need quiet and a break from the pressure of school and home. In addition to being the center of activity for out-of-school time activities, RYSC will offer teen runaways a safe place through supervised shelter.
The Rosman Youth Support Center is a one of a kind facility that cherishes and capitalizes on the resilience of a small town while supporting vulnerable young people. We are grateful for CFWNC’s support of our work.
Ryan Hinkleman, M.A. Ed., M.S. Ed.
Executive Director, Rosman Youth Support Center