Coalition seeks ways to expand youth spaces

Homer students initiate efforts to create a youth event calendar and resource guide

Homer High School junior Sofia Loboy and senior Ashe Dias, with support from the Southern Kenai Peninsula Resilience Coalition and the Kenai Peninsula Youth Court, at a Nov. 2 gathering took their first steps toward creating an event calendar and resource guide for Homer youth.

The idea was launched in response to a MAPP community meeting that took place in May, during which Kenai Peninsula Youth Court Executive Director Ginny Espenshade identified the need for a networking tool to increase awareness and access to youth activities and opportunities in the Homer area.

Though supported by the two organizations, Espenshade said they really wanted to put efforts for creation of the website into the hands of the youth and let them speak for themselves and create what they want to.

People attending the Nov. 2 meeting included representatives of Homer’s Rec Room, Homer Community Recreation, Kachemak Bay Family Planning, Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, Howl, Youth for Environmental Action, KBBI and Cook Inletkeeper.

“We are trying to start a youth-led project to create a community calendar in order to find where gaps exist in after-school care and help connect families to after-school activities,” Loboy told the Homer News.

A core issue facing students is a lack of locations where youth can engage in after-school activities away from the school campuses.

As Loboy explained, if a student doesn’t participate in something like sports, dance or music lessons, there aren’t many indoor locations for casual down time.

“After-school activities on the campus are great for some people but not everyone falls into those boxes. Sports can be really expensive. Also, a lot of times events at the school, like rehearsals, don’t start until later in the day, maybe 6:30, so we still have time to fill,” she said.

She noted that while there used to be more coffee shops or small casual restaurants, many of these closed or changed the way they operated during COVID.

“It’s really hard for youth in Homer to figure out what is going on around town that they might enjoy participating in. A lot of people don’t really use Facebook. Calendars for organizations like KBBI or the Homer News are focused more on the adults or families and not youth specifically,” she said.

Loboy said that when she talks to adults about what they used to do as teenagers, there was usually a location where they could go “hang out.”

“Some people have mentioned going somewhere like a Waffle House or a Denny’s, some casual restaurant. We don’t have anything like that in Homer. There’s no seating in Starbucks and some of the other coffee spots don’t really encourage teenagers to stay very long,” she said. She mentioned that even the movement of the Subway from its previous location on Pioneer Avenue to where it is now on Lake Street isn’t as convenient as it used to be.

“We need a way to connect kids with things to do after school,” she said. “It’s a struggle. It seems like once we get used to a place, it closes down.”

Loboy said the Homer Public Library is a safe place, but “if you want a place to just hang out with your friends, somewhere like the library is too quiet.”

What is a current option? Loboy mentioned Homer beaches, but without a car or appropriate outdoor gear, or in months of cold weather, that doesn’t necessarily work either.

The event calendar idea is in phase one, which they identify in their flyer as reaching out to initial agencies and collecting contact information as well informing agencies and community members about the project as a whole.

Phase two will entail building an event calendar. Eventually the group will generate a website. At the meeting held Nov. 2. Loboy and Dias indicated that the draft title for it will be “Where can I…Homer.”

If community members have suggestions or thoughts for the preliminary phase event calendar creation, contact the Kenai Peninsula Youth Court at

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