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Findlay welcomes new creative hub for teens

A historic downtown Findlay building is now the destination for local teens to express their artistic sides and develop skill sets for life.
A historic downtown Findlay building is now the destination for local teens to express their...
A historic downtown Findlay building is now the destination for local teens to express their artistic sides and develop skill sets for life.(Jack Bassett)
Published: Mar. 4, 2021 at 10:41 PM EST
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FINDLAY, Ohio (WTVG) -On the fourth floor of the Kirk building located on East Crawford Street in downtown Findlay, a quick elevator ride for local teens welcomes them to a new kind of space.

“So it is called The LOFT,” said Kayla Fortman. “What makes this place so perfect for our youth is that it is a loft, we actually fit the title with the name and with the building.”

“The LOFT” comes from the group FOCUS Recovery and Wellness Community, a non-profit recovery community organization that offers support and resources to anyone impacted by mental health, addiction, or trauma issues. Kayla Fortman serves as the Executive Director of FOCUS.

Fortman and FOCUS staff have used funding and donations to expand their outreach to the local youth population, creating “The LOFT.” For teens ages, 13-18, LOFT is a free safe space after school center that also offers support for youth impacted by mental health, addiction, and/or trauma-related issues. LOFT’s space is filled with games, study spots, and a rotating wave of guest speakers. Every week LOFT staff welcome local community leaders into the space to share their personal experiences and also offer up advice to teens.

“Behind me, it says “be you”, and that’s what we want. We want them to come in and feel that way,” said Fortman. “We want them to feel like they can belong, and they can be in this space just as they are.”

FOCUS staff want to reach teens in new ways. LOFT leaders have filled the space with areas for live music, a podcast bay in the building, a meditation room, and even going old school with a vinyl record playing zone. But “The LOFT”’s best resource may just be its teachers.

“I love this job because I’m able to help youth be themselves and be the person I needed when I was younger for them,” said LOFT lead teacher Torri Williams. “It’s like being a big sister for everyone.”

LOFT mentors like Torri Williams want to see the downtown destination become an artistic avenue to let today’s teens and tomorrow’s future known they are something special.

“We preach it...for youths to be themselves,” said Williams. “It gives people in the community a space to come in and have an impact on the youth and it’s amazing.”

Staff with FOCUS and "The LOFT" believe "young people today face new and ever-changing issues...
Staff with FOCUS and "The LOFT" believe "young people today face new and ever-changing issues and the LOFT helps youth navigate these experiences by building a supportive network."(Jack Bassett)

To donate to the FOCUS group and to learn more about “The LOFT” you can find more information on their website. The LOFT welcomes all local teens to come out and try out their space for themselves Monday through Friday from 3:00 PM to 6:00 p.m. on the 4th Floor of 129 E. Crawford Street.

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