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Boreal Community Media

An update on North Point with Brad Shannon

Mar 05, 2021 05:45AM ● By Editor
Editor's Note:  Chloe Blackburn is Boreal Community Media's second student digital media journalism intern.  Chloe is attending Lake Superior College, majoring in Criminal Justice and Psychology.  We look forward to her articles about her life experiences.  Boreal is happy to offer her real-world reporting experience with this internship - made in part possible by a grant from the Lloyd K. Johnson Foundation.

By Chloe Blackburn - Exclusive to Boreal Community Media - March 5, 2021

There is, without a doubt, a lot of interest revolving around Brad Shannon’s plans for North Point’s youth center, located in downtown Grand Marais. I recently had the chance to talk to Mr. Shannon about his progress on the youth center, as well as his plans and goals for the future of the youth of our community. As many of you know, the youth center will be in the heart of downtown Grand Marais, in the building that formerly housed Grandma Ray’s and the American Legion Post 413. Shannon’s main goal for the youth center is to “give kids a sense of resilience, and to end hopelessness.” So the question we’re all asking is, how?

There’s no question that it will be a challenge, and there’s no guarantee that it will work, but, as Shannon puts it, “there's never guarantees in life, and, well, teens are worth it. So we're going to give it a try.” Brad hopes to establish a “safe space” for youth through adult and youth-led programs, as well as through safe and respectful interactions with the people around them. 

Brad and Brooke Shannon in their new building.

To help develop the programming, Brad has turned to the youth of this community for advice. Some of the ideas he has gathered include: having an open, safe space for after school, helping with things such as FAFSA and career choices, hosting pre-game meals for sports teams, possibly hosting dances such as prom or homecoming, having board games, and other games available, creating a mural, planning future Boundary Waters canoe trips, band practices, and, of course, a karaoke machine. With the youth center and its programs, kids will be in a space where relationships are central, both kids with kids, and kids with adults, providing them with the ability to no longer feel helpless or hopeless. 

Progress on the building reconfiguration is underway. Shannon and his family are currently trying to reclaim, clean up, and renovate the space. They intend to keep the bar, which will provide soda and water for the youth, and a space to enjoy some snacks after school. The building will have seating “nooks” for different activities, such as studying (in a quieter space) or enjoying a game with friends (in a less secluded area). The big-screen televisions will stay for broadcasting sports and possibly video gaming. 

Shannon wants to be clear with his intentions, as he knows that the space and its programs won’t be all things for all people at the same time. He hopes that the community he is building can at least bring hope to some. To address the age differences of the population he will serve, he plans to have set times when the facility is more about older kids, and times when it will cater more to the younger kids. He is still figuring out what parameters need to be set to make a space safe for everybody and their beliefs. Because Shannon is a man of faith, the non-profit is faith-based, and there will be opportunities with faith elements, like an optional youth group night. Other than this opportunity, Brad does not have any intentions of exposing youth to religion through the center. The facility is available to all youth, regardless of their faith. 

At the end of the day, every program will be designed to instill, at its core, a sense of love, capability, and self-worth into community youth. Shannon wants kids to know that they are “loved without strings and that they have a future ahead of them.” Brad and his wife, Brooke, will be the main staff of the youth center. They already have a growing list of adults and kids supporting them, and they plan on having volunteers help out when available. The volunteers will go through training that Shannon has put together, as well as background checks. Although the plans are not set in stone, Shannon was grateful to hear one youth in the community offer their opinion on the center, saying “I’m just grateful to have a space to be together and talk.” 

The attached photo gallery shows students from Northwestern College in Iowa lending a helping hand during a two-day service project at the North Point building.

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