MYTHIRDPLACE cultivates environments for teens to grow in faith, develop character, and mature relationally through mentorship and discipleship.
CREATE WHAT YOU WISH EXISTED
We envision an Azusa whose youth walk in the fullness of who God calls them to be, lead a generation that breaks the cycles of dysfunction within their neighborhoods, and become a people that is committed to serving its diverse community.
Ray Oldenburg, a sociologist and author of “The Good, Great Place,” coined the term ‘Third Place’, and was first to introduce the concept. He suggests the idea that each person lives in three places. The first place is home, the second is school or work, and the third is wherever we live life outside of the first two. While the first two places are already determined for us, we choose our third place. Examples of a third place could include a local coffee shop, a bar, the streets, or even some forms of social media. All three places are intimately connected, such that positive change in one place will result in positive transformation in the others.
We want to provide safe, alternative third places for teens to wrestle with their questions, discover who they are, and explore life. We fully understand the importance of education in the lives of our teens and we provide some academic support. However, MYTHIRDPLACE focuses on transformation of the hearts, minds, and souls of youth, through mentorship and discipleship, as opposed to academic growth. Instead of simply modifying behavior, we aim for change that is internal and pervasive in every aspect of our teens’ lives. This is the heart of what we do through mentorship and discipleship at MYTHIRDPLACE.
All teens need a place to learn and grow where people will love, support, encourage, and walk through life with them. Studies show that students in these mentoring relationships are more confident in their schoolwork performance, able to get along better with their families, and significantly less likely to begin using drugs/alcohol and skipping school. However, as we looked across the various organizations that existed in Azusa in the summer of 2013, we recognized that this need for teens to be mentored and discipled was still not being met. There were educationally focused organizations that provided academic support and churches with youth groups where Christian teens could be discipled. However, there were no places where Christian and non-Christian teens in Azusa alike could focus on comprehensive growth as men and women in their families, neighborhoods, and city.
MYTHIRDPLACE was founded in August 2013 as a response to these needs. As parents and teens heard of and believed in our vision of mentorship and discipleship, MYTHIRDPLACE became a reality. A local church also began contributing resources to assist us as we serve our teens. Since then we have partnered with city officials, other youth organizations, churches, clubs, and post-secondary institutions to offer places and spaces for teens in Azusa to explore life alongside mentors. We are currently running our Spring 2017 program, as well as developing our volunteer base, donor base, and programs for the rest of the year.
THE PENROSE TRIANGLE
The Penrose Triangle is a direct illustration of what MYTHIRDPLACE strives for. We believe that one of the greatest blessings is having others in our lives that are committed to providing us guidance and seeing us grow. We also believe that making that commitment to others is one of our greatest callings. Our hope is that as teens enter into mentoring and discipling relationships, they become part of the cycle of mentorship and discipleship. Ultimately, the hope is that outside volunteers would be no longer needed, and that the cycle would be self-sustained by youth who grow into volunteers and feed back into their community, mentoring and discipling the next generation. Just as the Penrose Triangle is a paradox, a triangle that never ends, the cycle of mentorship and discipleship never ends.