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Whitehaven Library provides after-school safe haven for students

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Parents, listen up: If you're looking for an after-school program for your teen, we have a great one to tell you about — the Teen Haven program at Whitehaven Library.

Students can make a beat, play the piano or rap in the haven.

"I like it a lot because they have a piano to play and I like playing music, and this is going to be my first time playing the piano," said Mikiya Gilmore.

Coordinator Aliccia Lark says this is the first official year of the program designed to give teens something positive to do after school, keeping them out of trouble.

Inside the Teen Haven, there's everything from laptops to a DJ.

"They can use them for gaming as a group or by themselves, they can use them for research or for projects," said Lark.

There's also a snack and a gaming area.

"Some days we'll have out games, but other days we'll have out passive programing," said Lark. "Passive programming is when we leave out something with instructions and let the teens sort of do their own thing."

Lark tells me she wants to keep things fun but she's always trying to slide in some type of learning experience.

"For example, laptops, yes they can play Roblox on them, but I can have as a side program how to code or how to do the basics for HTML on a website," said Lark.

In the future, Lark plans to bring in more technology, for instance, Cubelets.

"Little boxes but they're special, you can create a robot with these cubed boxes, so I was like I would love to be able to put that on the table for my teens to play with and see what they can create," said Lark.

In the meantime, it's all about making sure the teens can unwind after a long day at school out of harm's way.

"We want them to have a safe arena outside of school where they can actually be themselves," said Lark.

For Teen Haven, you have to be 13 to 18 years old. You don't have to be a Shelby County student. There's always one security guard and two staff members inside the haven the entire time. Teen Haven Hours are Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 2:30-4:30 p.m. and Thursdays 2:30-3:15 p.m.