Seattle Parks TeensTeen Programs History

The 1980s marked an unprecedented surge in violent juvenile crimes, due in part to a transition by young people from drug use to the profitable and highly competitive drug trafficking market. Traditional youth recreation programs and approaches became irrelevant because they were not aligned with the current behavior and circumstances of the participants.

A new mayor was elected in Seattle at the end of the 1980s and at every public meeting he attended he was asked, "What are you going to do about gangs?" Seattle had a reputation of being America's most livable city. Although known for its high quality of life, this image was being tarnished by the gang problem. The public, political officials, and businesses were all applying pressure to the bureaucratic system to address the gang problem. Reco Bembry, Seattle Teen Programs Coordinator, noted, "It was clear the solution had not been found yet, so the community and government were open to new ideas."

In 1989 a consortium of recreation professionals in the city was established as the "Seattle Team for Youth." In addition, a Mayor's task force was formed comprised of the heads of city departments which deal with youth.

See more information about our Youth Violence Prevention program.

We continue today to strive towards success in the following:

  • Expanding parks and recreation opportunities for high school aged youth in the evenings and on weekends
  • Creating and expanding youth employment opportunities, including paid internships and career shadowing, during the summer and throughout the year
  • Aligning out-of-school time activities with school readiness and academic success
  • Partnering with communities to develop services and activities that are specifically tailored for ethnic and immigrant populations


Welcome to Seattle Parks - Information web page. Find the latest info about all of Seattle Parks Teens programs, events and activities. Including Late Night, O2 outdoor education, the Youth Violence Prevention Initiative, service learning hours and more.

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