Earlier this week, over 200 attendees came out to the groundbreaking ceremony held by Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas for the Avis and Mark Ridley-Thomas Learning Center.
The center is named after both Avis and Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, who share a history of actively supporting coalition building, social justice, empowerment, and non-violent solutions to particular issues.
The newly renovated building is set to open in the heart of Los Angeles, at 5054 South Vermont Avenue, and will coincide with their efforts of community empowerment and activism. The center will act as a dedicated youth center and encourage young adults and their peers to utilize the space as a safe zone and resource center.
Additionally, the building will act as a “stand-alone drop-in center” and will provide access to holistic arts education, permanent housing comprehensive resources, school assistance, career training, and a positive support system.
“One of the most challenging periods in a young person’s life is the transition from adolescence to adulthood,” said Avis Ridley-Thomas.
According to a recent 2017 study on the overlap of homelessness and commercial exploitation, 91 percent of homeless youth reported being offered fraudulent work opportunities including scams, pandering, and sex trafficking.
The study goes on to state that more than half of the homeless youth report mental health challenges, involving depression, anxiety, psychosis, and post-traumatic stress. Moreover, in the county of Los Angeles, youth homelessness has increased 61 percent from 2016 to 2017.
Both Avis and Supervisor Ridley-Thomas believe that with the help of the center, the county of Los Angeles will begin to see a decrease in these statistics.
“This transition from adolescence to adulthood also provides a window of opportunity to intervene and guide young people toward self-sufficiency,” the Chairman said.
The Los Angeles Child Guidance Clinic (LACGC), founded in 1924, is a nationally acclaimed mental health service provider for children and youth in South L.A. previously purchased the building that will house the center that will provide trauma-informed mental health services and support resources to at risk transition-age youth ages 16-25.
In 2014, the LACGC Life Learning Program, was renamed after Avis and Supervisor Ridley-Thomas for their joint achievements.
“We fully expect that this Center will avert many a young person from the criminal justice system, the mental health system, and a lifetime on the streets,” the Chairman said.
The Avis & Mark Ridley-Thomas Life Learning Center is set to open in mid-2018