Posted 7:09 AM 5/30/2013 : Non-profit helping troubled TUSD students searches for new home
TUCSON- A pile of board games, basketballs and football helmets are just a few of the items sitting in a room full of packed up boxes at Valencia Middle School.
For the past six years, the recreational items have helped shape the lives of teenagers like Lindsay Kobrig. "It's just a lot different from 6th grade to now," Kobrig says.
The 16-year-old Tucson High School student had a rough family life growing up. Her father was in jail and her parents ended up getting divorced.
But Kobrig found support at a non-profit organization called "Higher Ground". "They don't just treat you like a number, they get to know you," Kobrig says.
Higher Ground was formed six years ago by Jansen Azarias. It currently serves 130 TUSD students, from kindergarten through high school. "We have kids that come from single parent homes, kids that come from alcohol and drug addiction, kids that are coming from poverty," Azarias says.
For the past couple of years "Higher Ground" has operated out of empty classrooms at Valencia Middle School. But now the organization's headquarters are in limbo. Due to TUSD closures, next year Valencia will be taking in more students, which means it won't have room to house "Higher Ground".
Azarias is hoping to move operations to Wakefield Middle School, which is one of the TUSD schools closing. "As of right now we have the support of the community," Azarias says.
But nothing is set in stone and for now all of the organization's items will remain packed up in boxes at Valencia.
TUSD says "Higher Ground" is one of three organizations that have expressed interest in leasing space at Wakefield Middle School. The district issued this statement to News 4 Tucson: "TUSD is evaluating those proposals on criteria that include promoting community well-being - especially in the adjacent neighborhood, maximizing long-term revenue to the district, and facilitating rapid repurposing to eliminate current TUSD site operating costs."
A leasing recommendation will be presented to the board in June.
Meanwhile, teens like Kobrig just hope "Higher Ground" can find a new home by the time school starts back up in August. "If it wasn't for Higher Ground, I would most likely have no plans for my future and no hope," Kobrig says.
For more information about "Higher Ground" head to: www.higherground.me/
You can also check out the group's Facebook page: "Higher Ground A Resource Center".
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