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In October of 2004, Brenda Freed met DuAnne Redus, founder and director of the non-profit organization, The Lifeworks Institute, Inc. DuAnne shared with Brenda her vision of creating a somewhat self-sustaining non-profit (social entrepreneurialism) that focused on prevention programs for middle school youth. Because Brenda has a passion for serving youth in the community, (see YAPI) she immediately shared DuAnne's vision and joined the Board of Directors for the non-profit. The two women worked closely together researching statistics from the Texas Youth Commission and the Casey Foundation and found there was a need for prevention programs to reduce dropout rate and the number of youth entering the Texas juvenile justice system. To better reflect their focus, the name of the organization was changed to Youth Taking Charge (YTC): www.youthtakingcharge.us. (See the website for a history of projects and funding sources.) With the new name, the new mission became: to prevent situational poverty (social, emotional, psychological or economical) from becoming generational poverty.
In 2005, YTC offered a 5-day residential camp in Wimberley to 30 East Austin at-risk youth who attended on scholarships. Private donors from Austin funded the camp which provided daily developmental programs in art, music, martial arts, job preparation training, and leadership, social and problem solving skills. Between 2006 and 2009, YTC was seeking a niche to serve local youth in the Wimberley community and provided Life Skills classes at Danforth Junior High, sponsored at-risk local junior high volunteers for service learning at the monthly Lions Club Market Days, sponsored the Young Artist Performance Incubator (YAPI), and conducted surveys to determine the needs of Wimberley youth. Results of the surveys led to a new local-based mission for Youth Taking Charge: to provide a year round safe community facility where Wimberley Valley youth explore recreational activities and developmental programs.
In the spring of 2010, the perfect building for a youth facility became available in Wimberley. It is located at 501 Old Kyle Road which backs up to the popular Blue Hole swimming area. A private donor helped secure the facility where YTC offered summer day camps for youth going into 3rd grade through 8th grade. YTC Summer Day Camps were inclusive and operated from 8:00am-5:00pm five days a week. Swimming at Blue Hole was offered three times per week. Daily activities included art, music, movement, outdoor and indoor games and group interaction activities. Weekly activities included nature hikes, special speakers, adventure trips, and community service projects. Brenda acted as program coordinator for the camp and scheduled staff, special speakers, and community service projects, and led music and movement activities.
The tuition fee for YTC Summer Day Camp was $125/week plus a $9/week swim fee. Scholarships were available through the generosity of private donors and through the Child Care Management Services of the Texas Workforce Commission upon application.. YTC summer day camp was fee based to continue the vision of creating a somewhat self-sustaining non-profit organization.
Although Brenda is no longer on the YTC Board, she still supports the YTC mission and YTC continues to sponsor YAPI. In keeping with the mission of providing a year round safe community facility where Wimberley youth explore recreational activities and developmental programs, Youth Taking Charge is currently researching and writing grants to fund a Youth Activity Center for grades 6-12 for after school and weekend activities during the school year. To learn more about Youth Taking Charge or to make a donation, refer to www.youthtakingcharge.us