Keeping youth busy and happy is one of Newmann Thomas’ many jobs as the Youthline Outreach Mentor for Audubon Park.
Newmann divides his time between Audubon, Windom, and Waite Parks and works with a variety of youth in the park building each day.
He said that good programs “touch on life skills and decision-making skills.” “We try to be advocates for our youth at all levels: neighborhood, city, and state,” he said, describing a recent lobbying visit to the State Capitol.
Newmann graduated in Child Psychology from the University of Minnesota and first worked at the Bridge for Runaway Youth as a youth and family counselor. Although he described the job as rewarding, he wanted to see the lighter side of people’s lives and came to the parks.
Originally from Milwaukee, he was impressed by the elaborate park system in Minneapolis and has worked for the Minneapolis Parks system since 2006.
Newmann is passionate about his work with youth.
“I’m selfish. It is an investment in my future. They will be our leaders sooner or later,” he said. , “I really like to see the positive change in youth. To see a kid smile who is having a bad day is rewarding. There are so many little things. It’s not the big things.”
Audubon Park offers a wide range of afterschool and summer programs for middle school and high school youth. This spring, Audubon Park will offer a Boys & Girls Group, A Teen Night, A Cooking Class and may even construct an art mural. A game room and homework help are available every day, as well. You can also expect to see a lot of field trips in the spring and summer. Past trips have even included camping in the Boundary Waters.
To design a successful youth program, Newmann is always consulting with them for good ideas.
“I’m open to anything,” he said, but adds that strong diversity is present at all levels of programming. “We can be creative. A lot of times, if we have food, we’re good to go.”
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