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Chappaqua Library: The New Teen Hangout

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- Zahra Baird, head of teen services at the Chappaqua Library, is making the library card into a teen hang out access card.

Baird, who has been head of teen services for about two years, paired up with Matthew Nordt, Chappaqua recreation supervisor, to put together programs designed for and run by teenagers.

“We realized it was a real need in the community,” Nordt said. “When I came on board in New Castle, one of the initiatives and tasks were to work more with teens, it was something the town board really wanted to do.”

According to Nordt one of the initiatives they came up with is called teen alliance, a sort of teen governing body, in order to get opinions on how to fulfill the needs and wants of teens involved in the library.

“The idea was to try to find out ways to get teens involved,” Nordt said. “You can offer a million programs geared towards teens, but it doesn’t mean it is what they’re interested in or what they want, so the idea was to get a board of teens together to find out what they want or any issues they might have.”

Martha Alcott, assistant director of the library, said Baird and Nordt have been doing a wonderful job.

“Both of them have really done a wonderful job at involving teens that hadn’t really been involved before,” she said.

Another initiative the pair has come up with is called, Volunteen.

Baird said Volunteen’s most successful program is held on Wednesdays from 3 to 5:30 p.m. called, Got Game?

“Basically our library theater turns into a gaming room,” she said. “We have arts and crafts, origami, an iPad, they get a snack, any kind of games you can imagine.”

According to Baird, the teens have expressed a sense of relief to have a place to come and relieve what they call “stressure” or a mix of stress and pressure.

“In a community that is so focused on academics, it’s a great thing for kids to have,” said Alcott. “It’s a break from all the structure.”

Nordt and Baird both expressed their gratitude towards the PTA and Friends of the Library, for all of their support and help in their programming.

“They have been very instrumental in helping to be a unified coalition,” Baird said.

The library, in conjunction with the department of recreation, offers a variety of programs including Friday Pizza and a movie, an opportunity to build candy houses, a scavenger hunt and movie night, and even trips to travel to ComiCon in New York City and Scared by the Sound.

“We are really showing teens that there is other recreation besides sports,” said Nordt. “There is something for everyone here. The strength and beauty of this is the collaboration.”

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