HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) — Teenagers deal with lots of changes.

For nearly 600 teens in High Point, the YMCA is one constant they can count on.

The organization’s Free Teen Program provides free membership to teens ages 13 to 17. Through it they gain access to programs, educational opportunities and mentors at three branches across the city. Activities range from basketball to community service.

Macaiah Nwabueze says it has pushed her out of her comfort zone to make new friends. She also had the chance to meet first responders, entrepreneurs, and educators while participating in the leadership program. “I really enjoyed that because sometimes High Point can be painted in a bad light and it really showed there are good parts of High Point,” she said.

Her mother, Maria Nwabueze, knows the benefit of groups geared toward teens. She went to the Y when she was her daughter’s age. Now, as a parent and teacher, she appreciates the opportunities it continues to provide. “Our children were in the hands of professionals and people who really enjoy children and people who have a background of working with children,” Maria said.

Serving generations of families is one Carlvena Fosters’s favorite parts of her job as District Vice President of Operations at Carl Chavis YMCA. She says the Free Teen Program continues to grow and is meeting an important need in the community.

“It’s so important that teens have somewhere safe to go away from the social ills of the community,” Foster said. “They can come here and hang out in the teen center, do the same things they would do in their bedrooms, but here they have a chance to meet new friends, the fellowship and to learn new things and participate in different activities.”

A grant from the High Point Community Foundation helps keep the program free. It also allowed the Y to purchase new technology, hire counselors and plan more activities – things Foster hopes will draw families to participate in programs year-round.

“We try to make it fun and interesting for our teens so they want to come every day,” she said.

If you want to get your teen involved, the easiest way to sign them up for a membership is by going to one of the YMCA of High Point’s three branches.

The Carl Chavis Memorial YMCA is located at 2757 Granville Street. Hartley Drive Family YMCA is at 150 Hartley Drive. The Carl and Linda Grubb Family YMCA is located at 609 Trindale Road in Trinity. You can find more information on their website.