Growing up today can be tough. “Suicide, depression, anxiety, isolation and self-destructive behavior are all on the rise,” says the latest newsletter produced by LIFT, an up-and-coming youth center focused on making a positive difference in the lives of local young people. “Without support, students can move down a negative spiral as biological changes, negative social interactions, erratic sleep and technology overloads lead to problematic behavior and emotional patterns.”

LIFT began in 2018 when a few parents got together and worked out a mission: “The concept of LIFT is to create opportunities for students to be Loved as they are, Inspired to be more, Found in community and Trusted to make a difference.”

The group gained supporters, filed as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, started creating and sponsoring activities throughout the community and has now purchased its own building that will be called “The Claudia Nance Rollins Youth Center.”

Claudia Nance Rollins, says LIFT, was known as a force for good here in her local community, as a neighbor, a teacher and a mother. “Mrs. Rollins impressed upon her two sons that they could achieve anything through honesty, integrity and hard work. She encouraged her sons to work harder than anyone else, to always strive to be better than average, to be leaders not followers, to dare to dream, to aspire, to achieve great things, and to never forget the importance of family.”

“(The youth center) will be a positive anchor in a sea of negatives,” says LIFT’s newsletter, “an option where (young people) can learn, grow and explore – even fail – all while being supported and encouraged. In this positive spiral, biological changes increase their tendencies to explore healthy versions of risk-taking which leads to taking on responsibility and improving self-confidence as their risk is rewarded.”

LIFT will hold a groundbreaking for its new youth center at 7179 Nashville St. in Ringgold on Thursday, June 25, at 9 a.m., attended by the Catoosa County Chamber of Commerce and key leadership within LIFT and the community.

“It will ‘take a village’ to support the village we are planning to create,” says Kelly Bomar, president of LIFT’s board of directors. “The Claudia Nance Rollins Youth Center will be so much more than just a recreation space to entertain our youth after school. This will be Ringgold’s youth center, and it will take the whole community to fund and support this mission.”

The public is encouraged to attend the groundbreaking via Facebook as a health precaution.

“If we can create a safe space,” says Tina Pinkston, LIFT’s executive director, “where a student can learn their worth and believe in their potential ... then we will have given them a great gift!”

Tamara Wolk is a reporter for The Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga., and Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga.

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