Where Kids Run the Show: Developing Youth Leaders

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The Neutral Zone

The Neutral Zone

The Neutral Zone is a teen center in Ann Arbor, Mich., where teenagers take leadership in running the organization. They facilitate programs and have seats on the board of directors.

See sidebar "Lessons from the Youth-Driven Spaces Project"

Wei Wen Balter was a new kid in town when he first set foot in the teen center in Ann Arbor, Mich., known as the Neutral Zone. Some acquaintances had told him about a program at the center that advocated for gay, lesbian and gender-questioning youth.

He had no idea that two years later he’d be a member of organization’s board of directors.

The 17-year-old senior at Skyline High School is now one of 13 teenagers on the 29-person board tasked with governing the center. He reviews financial information and helps make decisions about the operation, among other things.

“It’s a really cool perspective to sit on the board with all of the really experienced and smart adults,” said another teenage board member, Isaac Scobey-Thal, 16.

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