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Hangout for Kansas City Teens Is Youth-led Venture


There is a new spot for kids to hang out in Argentine, a suburb of Kansas City, Kan. Snack Shack KC is the idea of a group of kids who live in the area, and its creation was encouraged by community worker Kurt Rietema. The site had its grand opening November 10.

Rhiannon, 18, is one of the people behind Snack Shack KC. She said its purpose is to be a place to “chill with friends.” She explained kids can do various activities, including eating a snack or playing foosball, air hockey, video games, or board games.

Rietema is pastor of missional life at Pathway Community Church. His work of “Christian community development in the Argentine neighborhood” is supported by the Christian Reformed Church. He worked with the group behind this new venture to determine what they truly wanted to do for the community. “Snack Shack KC developed from our youth social entrepreneurship program that gathered a dozen local youth to dream about how they could solve the social problems in our neighborhood that they cared most about,” Rietema said.  The group saw two things they wanted to change: empty storefronts and the need for a place to hang out. Snack Shack KC was the answer to both.

It’s modeled after a snack shack one of the students had visited during a camp experience with Youthfront, a Kansas City youth mission organization where Rietema is the director of justice initiatives. “We took a road trip so the whole group could experience [the original snack shack] and did extensive planning,” Rietema said. “They created a business plan, did marketing surveys, sales projections, and identified several possible locations.” He added that the group “worked persistently” for two years with an area school district to get a lease for the location.

Zaira, 18, another founder of the venture, said: “We hope that Snack Shack KC just becomes a cool place for kids to hang out.  My little sister has already been asking how old she has to be before she can start working here because she just loves to hang out.  We’ve already seen a lot of excitement in the community just by fixing up an old storefront.  We hope that maybe this also inspires other people to fix up other places in our downtown too.” 

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