Once young people hit adolescence, they don’t want to be treated like children anymore. That’s why the teen programs at The Children’s Aid Society are anything but child’s play.

Our cultural, educational and health care programs all adapt to meet teens’ needs. Dance, music and theater can be explored alongside professional artists from the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater and American Ballet Theater. Youth can experience the 9-to-5 world through the Corporate Workplace Program and Neighborhood Youth Employment Program, both of which team teens with professional mentors.

The Hope Leadership Academy helps promote the self esteem that inspires youth to succeed. For those who have lost their way, our Juvenile Justice re-entry programs help them get back on track emotionally, educationally and within their family network. Health care, that in childhood focuses on vaccinations, in the teen years shifts towards sexual and reproductive health. And because people of any age love a good game, our basketball, swim and fitness programs have an active teen participation.

This approach yields proven results. Youth who leave juvenile justice facilities and join Children’s Aid’s City Challenge program are at a reduced risk of repeating illegal behavior. The teen pregnancy prevention program reduces the incidence of pregnancy and other sexual tragedies. And Children’s Aid itself has also benefited — many of our current employees and volunteers were once youth enrolled in our programs.

This framework has been successful at helping Children’s Aid fulfill its mission: To help youth responsibly achieve the independence they crave, and use that independence to become successful adults.