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Teen center brings unity to Osan

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The Osan Teen Center has many programs that strive to entertain the youth here. One program in particular though, strives to improve their lives and the community around them.

Osan teens participate in Youth for Unity, a Boys and Girls Clubs of America program that fosters unity, diversity and strives to break down barriers for young teens, according to their official Web site, www.bgca.org.

"You learn how to work with other people and to break down barriers and stereotypes with this program," said Ms. Amy Maness, the Osan Teen Center program coordinator. "I think it's critical, fundamental to their success in life, being able to adopt and assimilate with different cultures."

As teens begin to return from summer vacation and new dependents arrive at the base with the summer PCS season, the teen center is preparing to take ideas for next year's program. They hope to make a run at a third straight gold medal and continue to improve the local community.

Osan's Teen Center has competed and won the gold medal for all military bases world-wide two years in a row. Last year's winning theme was "Kids 2 Kids," a week-long event that concluded in a "Challenge Day" at the end of the week. The previous year, the Teen Center won for their Korean-American Youth Alliance program, or KAYA.

"It was fun, you got to work with younger kids, and to help them with various activities," said Leah Maness, one of the teens that participated in the Kids 2 Kids program. "We used some communication activities to help them learn to communicate better with each other."

"I think we would be doing a disservice to our kids if we didn't offer something like this," said Ms. Maness. "It all ties into the Good Neighbor Program, and with General (B.B.) Bell and his vision of how our host nation sees us, and how we can improve that."

The programs that the teens here at Osan create, such as Kids 2 Kids and KAYA, strive to make Osan a better place, as well as to foster a better Korean-American relationship.