SPRING HILL — There’s a SHIFT taking place in Spring Hill, and a group of concerned parents hopes it means local teenagers will feel safer, happier and more confident than ever before.
Candy Schoenberger founded Spring Hill Inspiration for Teens (SHIFT) in 2016 following the death of two Spring Hill teens who took their own lives just nine months apart.
Schoenberger said it started as a conversation between her and other concerned parents, and it soon grew into meetings at Gambino’s Pizza and eventually a 10-member board of parents and youths planning teen-friendly events and activities.
Those events have included things like dance parties, movie nights, karaoke, board games and outdoor activities such as lawn games and kickball.
Schoenberger said she was amazed at how quickly the local teens embraced the idea.
“We had 180 kids at our first event,” she said.
The events are designed for students in grades 6-12, and community members can learn more about the activities on the group’s website at www.shiftfor teens.org, or on the group’s Facebook page.
In August 2018, SHIFT members celebrated the group’s two-year anniversary by having teens release balloons to symbolize letting go of troubles. Ezekiel Michijah Crozier, who is a medically-retired veteran, was the guest inspirational speaker for the event at the Spring Hill Middle School North building.
Schoenberger said the group tries to offer at least one event every month, and the next scheduled event is set to be a Minute to Win It competition Saturday, Feb. 23, at the Spring Hill Community Center.
Thanks to support from some outside organizations, the group also has been able to offer classes for teenagers. Examples include self defense and anti-bullying training with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, a hair and skin class with Perfect Details, and a car maintenance class with J&T Auto.
Schoenberger is president of the SHIFT board, and she receives a lot of marketing and graphic design help from vice president Michelle Huffman.
The pair have been pleased with the progress so far, but they both said they have a much bigger vision for the future of SHIFT.
The group is actively looking for a permanent location to safely host teen events, and they are working with Capsol to develop an app for teens that could provide support via text messages.
The biggest project, though, has been the development of an idea for Inspiration Park on land next to the Spring Hill Aquatic Center.
Schoenberger said a separate committee has been working on the project, and the park would include a skate park, basketball court, sand volleyball pit, graffiti wall and more.
The project was presented to the Spring Hill City Council on Thursday, Jan. 24, but no official decision was made. The council members plan to discuss the issue further during the Feb. 28 council meeting.
The city’s parks advisory board has recommended that the council reserve land just south of the aquatic center for the multi-use park.
If the plans are approved, Schoenberger hopes to raise funds and get started on the project quickly.
“I want it built in two years,” she said.