The skate park, bandapalooza, concerts at the train station. All are hallmarks of the Coalition for Awareness, Responsibility, Education and Safety, commonly referred to as New Castle Cares.
In the 1990s, many towns in the nation were wrestling with a burgeoning issue – the need to create engaging activities for teens. Recently retired middle school social worker Lyndall Boal recalled the birth of NC Cares in 1997: “The town wanted to form a committee to provide alternatives for kids in New Castle to drugs and alcohol and to help the police department by providing opportunities for community service.”
Boal noted that there were many beneficial byproducts of the organization due to the equal participation of students and adults. When students raised the idea of building a skate park, they designed and presented extensive blueprints to demonstrate its viability. “They were treated with such deference and respect,” Boal said. She also mentioned that a rise in self-esteem and grades was a frequent occurrence among the teens.
The group also provided a forum for kids who wanted to contribute to the community. Jason Chapin, a current Town Board member and former liaison to NC Cares, related the story of one youth who started a computer bank. Donations of computers were solicited, refurbished and given to fellow students.
Several factors contributed to the current dormant state of NC Cares: Pleasantville’s decision to eliminate funding for the skatepark and the existence of other groups standing in the wings, ready to carry on its mission. Teen Alliance, a very popular group in town, has seen its numbers rise dramatically in recent years. There are also many viable clubs in the middle and high schools. Chapin remains hopeful that NC Cares will undergo a renaissance. He mentioned that although the skatepark is currently closed, it could conceivably be reopened in the future.