Helping teens find their ‘little niche’

After Dark Art Workshops for Teens provides a creative outlet


Summertime usually means a lot of outdoor activities for children. But once the sun goes down and it’s time to go home, the day is over for most kids. Glenwood Landing resident Beth Costello wanted to change that for teen girls. Costello opened, “Kaleidoscope: After Dark Art Workshops for Teens,” at the Glenwood Life Center in July with the intentions of helping teen girls.

“As a teenager, you don’t always want to sit inside at night during the summer,” said Costello, 53. “I thought this was something constructive and creative that they could come out and do and also meet other teens in their age group.”

Kaleidoscope is a multifaceted nine-week program for girls from ages 12 to 17 geared to give individuals “valuable insight” in different disciplines such as painting, photography, meditation, yoga, and journaling. Costello hopes this will enable teens to gain unique skills while forming friendships. “It’s all a matter of finding your little niche and what you like, and then being able to utilize that outside of the workshop,” she explained.

Costello originally planned to have one workshop. But many of the girls were interested in different activities so she decided to break up the classes into groups. Each workshop is led by members of the life center who want to make a difference for teens.

“Most of the skills in these workshops have helped me throughout my life,” she said. “I thought it would be a good idea to share the techniques and methods that I’ve gained.”

Costello is an artist who teaches graphic design at Nassau Community College. Teaching students for the last 20 years, she wanted to bring her “passion” back home.

“I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s just rewarding to me,” Costello said. “I wanted to continue that feeling with teenagers while bringing something positive to the community.”

Costello added that the key to working with teenagers is to accept them and allow them to “be who they are” when they first enter the classroom. Slowly but surely, Costello said, they start to open up. “The dynamics of these girls are interesting but if you leave them on their own to do work, they come out of their shells,” she explained.

The Glenwood Life Center, which is right down the street from Costello’s home, had recently reopened in August 2016 after going through several incarnations. The building was formerly known as the Glenwood Arts Center and before that, it was used as a church. United Adult Ministries, a nonprofit organization that aids senior citizens, inherited the building in 2015 with hopes of expanding its usage.

“One of our goals was to open up the building so that anyone can use it,” said Bryce Elliott, head of community relations at the life center. “We’ve taken things one step at a time in seeing what people are interested in.”

Elliott also explained that Costello’s art workshop is one of their creative programs that could develop a special bond between teens and adults.

“Maybe these relationships could lead to a unique friendship or maybe teens will be inspired to focus on their mentor’s skills as a career,” he said. “New York is such a fast pace environment so this is a place where children can slow down and develop some relationships with other people in the community.”

Costello hopes that this is just the beginning for the program. She would like to see her workshops utilized by the North Shore School District as an afterschool program. Additionally, she would like the program to reach out to teens in other communities that include Glen Cove and Roslyn. Whatever lies ahead, she hopes that teens will view this program as a “safe place” to be creative.

“The bottom line is — you want them to enjoy what they’re doing,” Costello said. “Not just to learn and put information in their heads, you want them to enjoy the class itself.”

The workshops take place on Wednesdays from 7 to 9 p.m.