Teen Challenge is a Christian outreach and rehabilitation program designed to reach troubled and drug-addicted people with a message of hope. It was founded in 1958 by David Wilkerson, a pastor from Phillipsburg, Pennsylvania, who went to New York City to work with young people involved in inner-city gangs. He established the first Teen Challenge to offer these young people a different kind of life than the drug addiction, crime and gang wars which dominated their lives.
Teen Challenge Cincinnati was started in 1972, largely through the efforts of Ken Bagwell, a former producer of a local television show. He was deeply concerned about drug addiction among young people in Cincinnati and, with the help of former Executive Director James C. Gray and others, began working in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood with the goal of establishing a Teen Challenge program in the city. Their success in the jails, hospitals and on the streets was an inspiration to others who helped incorporate a Teen Challenge in Cincinnati in January 1973. In June 1973, a building at 1410 Vine Street was purchased to establish off-street counseling and a rehabilitation center.
From this facility, Teen Challenge staff continued the jail and outreach counseling and started telephone and family counseling and a Kids Club, a program designed to prevent drug abuse among young children. With the assistance of volunteers, they began the extensive remodeling required to bring the building, formerly used as a “flop house,” up to standards established by the Cincinnati Health Department for a residential facility. In February 1974, the first student was accepted into the residential program.
In April 1974, Ken Bagwell was brutally beaten by young criminals, intent on robbing him, as he was taking pictures in Drake Park. Though he lay semi-conscious and almost totally paralyzed, his vision of an outreach to his city’s troubled youth continued to materialize.
By November 1974, the mortgage of $33,000 had been paid and the program was reaching so many young people that the need for expanded facilities became apparent. In 1974, 98 acres of land in Clermont County was donated to Teen Challenge and plans for an expanded residential facility were made.
In May 1976 Ken Bagwell died from his injuries. Just one month later, on June 12, 1976, ground was broken for the Teen Challenge Ranch, consisting of the Kenneth L. Bagwell, Jr. Youth Home, a dormitory to house 30 students and 4 staff and an administration building for classrooms, cafeteria, chapel and offices. Construction was delayed many months while a necessary change in zoning was obtained. Teen Challenge moved a major portion of its program to its new facilities on February 14, 1981.
In 1988 the Bob and Betty Lindner Community Resource Center was built on our grounds. The Resource Center houses a gymnasium, classrooms and meeting rooms.
An electrical fire on July 25, 1991 completely destroyed the dormitory. Today a new dorm, located on the same spot, houses up to 36 students. It also includes a chapel, prayer room and lounge.
Our Women’s Maternity Home was founded in 2009 by the Men’s Ranch Executive Director, George Martin and is located near the Men’s facility.. A beautiful 1850 restored home and chapel building is a place of shelter and restoration to pregnant and non pregnant women.