County youth service holds Halloween party

DeKalb-area children will be treated to Halloween games and candy at the DeKalb County Youth Service Bureau’s annual Halloween costume party Friday night from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

YSB youth counselor Marie Kaemmerlen said the party is open to children from kindergarten through fifth grade and will feature such games as a ring toss and an apple-bob.

The party will be held at the Bureau office, 330 Grove St., DeKalb.

Many DeKalb-area businesses, such as Pick ‘N Save and Wal-Mart, both of 2500 Sycamore Rd., are sponsoring the event, Kaemmerlen said. “The DeKalb Police Department always donates money, and this year Ronan-Moore Mortuary has even donated a coffin to us (to use as a prop.)”

The Halloween costume party is just one example of the services for youth available at YSB, Kaemmerlen said. She said the bureau services children ages 10 to 18 throughout the area with programs designed to meet the needs of that age group.

The YSB’s Youth/Family Counseling Program deals with families in which a young person has problems with home, school or the police.

A peer counseling program offers help to children who are unwilling to go to professional adult counselors with their problems. Peer counselors are put through an extensive communications training program before they begin work.

Kaemmerlen said another service provided by YSB is alcohol awareness for youth. She said some programs offered include education sessions, usage assessment and counseling.

A six-week prevention program deals specifically with the medical aspects of alcohol and drug addiction and could include referrals to other alcohol programs such as that of Swedish-American Hospital in Rockford, she said.

Kaemmerlen said youths are invited to join the bureau’s recreation program (Drop-In-Center) Tuesday through Thursday from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the YSB Center. She said the program includes pool tables, ping-pong tables, TV and refreshments. “Some of our staff and volunteers are always on hand to supervise the Drop-In program,” Kaemmerlen said.

The DeKalb County’s YSB began in 1971 when Chicagoan Tom Atkins rented a storefront in DeKalb for use as a children’s community center. He called this center “Our Place.” Kaemmerlen said, “He (Atkins) saw that there was nothing in the city for kids. So, he asked for funding from businesses and the city” for help in maintaining a youth program in DeKalb.

She said the bureau primarily is funded today by the City of DeKalb, United Way and the Department of Children and Family Services. Kaemmerlen said YSB is dependent upon many other private contributions.

Kaemmerlen said, “We try to provide a healthy environment for children and teens (who come) from troubled backgrounds. Our goal is to teach them how to cope with stress and peer pressure.”