After two and a half decades as a volunteer-run organization, Passages Youth Center is now part of the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project (KCAVP).
Passages continues to be a safe, affirming place where 14- to 20-year-old LGBTQA youth can be themselves, socialize and learn. The drug-free, alcohol-free and hate-free group convenes from 5:30 to 9 p.m. each Wednesday at Trinity United Methodist Church, 620 E. Armour Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.
KCAVP youth services manager Misty Town heads up the programming at Passages. She and her colleagues Star Palmer and Melissa Winter work with young people every week.
All adults who work with Passages youth, whether they are paid or volunteer, undergo background checks. Training helps to make them better advocates for youth who may be victims of violence. Being trauma-informed is an essential part of healing for victimized youth.
Each Wednesday starts with the group hanging out and getting some food in the dedicated Passages space in the basement of the church. Games, media, art projects and more might precede a workshop. Wednesday workshop topics have included LGBTQ history, queer safer sex, ballroom dance, a visit from KC Sunshine, “Drag 101” and “Beyond LGBT.”
The Kansas City Community Kitchen (the “dining with dignity” place) provides food every other week. Grinders also donates meals, and once a month, the youth enjoy Costco pizza. Passages also has a clothing closet, food pantry and showers. Other resources available to Passages youth are the Trans People of Color (TPOC) and Survivors of Sexual Violence support groups at KCAVP. Monetary and in-kind donations may be made via the KCAVP website.
At this year’s Kansas City PrideFest in June, Passages youth staffed a youth space and collected 178 surveys. Then in July, Passages held a Queerage Sale, raising $800.
Future ideas for Passages include bringing back its weekly Saturday dance event called Club Queer, hosting decentralized pop-up versions of Passages for youth in other areas of the metro, and creating a Passages alumni event for past members.
Town hopes to get Passages youth engaged in service opportunities in the community. She feels that community involvement and giving back can be therapeutic.
A youth advisory board has been established to give the young people a voice in the organization. According to Town, many of the youth who attend Passages don’t identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, but rather as queer.
Town also conducts educational sessions in the community, teaching groups about terminology, safe spaces, Title IX compliance, etc. Alongside the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), KCAVP will conduct training at Pembroke Hill Middle School about how to combat anti-LGBT bullying. Kansas City Public Schools has invited KCAVP to start a pilot program that will survey all students in third grade and older about LGBT and safety issues. Plans are to establish a knowledge base about what makes youth feel safe. Identifying staff who are LGBT-safe will also be part of the program.
Town hails from the Kansas City area. She has previously worked at the YMCA and has experience as a professional clown. She and her wife have three children.
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▪ Aug. 26 at 7 p.m. – Hamburger Mary’s Bingo for KCAVP, 3700 Broadway Blvd. Suite 110, Kansas City, Mo.
▪ A parents’ group will begin meeting in September, simultaneously with, but separately from, the Wednesday night youth meeting.
▪ At 6 p.m. Sept. 28, Passages will present a showcase fundraiser titled “‘Out of the Closet’ and Onto the Stage” at Arts Asylum, 1000 E. Ninth St., Kansas City, Mo. Tickets will be $7 each or two for $10, and they are available for purchase HERE. Children under 12 enter free.
“‘Out of the Closet’ and Onto the Stage”
▪ A Halloween dance is being planned for October.
▪ 1 to 4 p.m., Nov. 12 will be Brunch & Bowl at Ward Parkway Lanes, 1523 W. 89th St., Kansas City, Mo., to benefit KCAVP’s youth program.