By Airen Goodman
CYDC Coordinator, 9th Judicial District
YouthZone provides supervised community service opportunities for youth that are required to complete public services hours by the court. Community service is not viewed as a punishment by YouthZone. It is the right thing to do. It is an opportunity for youth to contribute in a positive direction for our community.
YouthZone’s service programs are usually offered three times each month in Rifle on Fridays and in Glenwood Springs on Saturdays. Working alongside affiliated community nonprofits, including PREP (Personal Responsibility Education Program), Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers, Habitat for Humanity, Theater Aspen and many others, these service programs give young people a chance to connect on a different level to the people in their communities.
This summer, YouthZone has partnered with PREP to offer skill building workshops every Monday. With a different topic each week, youth will learn about food safety, grocery shopping, meal planning, financial literacy, conflict resolution, suicide prevention and much more. These classes will be scheduled from June 10 to Aug. 12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Professional local art teachers will also join YouthZone this summer to offer art classes in a nurturing learning environment. Art heals and transforms. It is a unifying force that provides youth a great environment to express themselves. These classes will not only be fun, but participants will learn skills such as communication, critical thinking, and self-expression. This kind of creative development can increase self-esteem.
YouthZone’s Assistant Director Keith Burglund recently spoke to the importance of art to YouthZone clients and the reason YouthZone incorporates it into their programs. Keith paraphrased another source when he pointed out that “art education develops imagination in children. And with imagination, a child can envision a reality that is different from the one they are currently experiencing.”
Aspen Theatre is coming to YouthZone later this summer to develop and produce a showcase with the kids. The first session is July 29 to Aug. 2, and the second session is Aug 5 to Aug. 9. Through these classes, youth will learn public speaking skills, collaboration, trust in themselves and others, and gain self-confidence. Using theater, YouthZone can facilitate personal empowerment by engaging, developing, and reinforcing the teens’ own imaginations and allowing their voices to be heard.
Through these programs, YouthZone’s clients can give back to the community and give back to themselves. All of these programs count towards their required service hours. Young people will learn and grow from their experiences. When teens learn how to express themselves in a positive way, it helps them to develop and maintain healthy relationships with their parents, peers and most importantly, the relationship with themselves.
Some youth who participate in these projects often stay engaged after they’ve completed their assigned hours, because they learn the value of contributing to society. Volunteering helps teens gain new skills that will help them in the job market: leadership, communication skills, dependability, time management, and decision making.
YouthZone welcomes volunteers to help with these programs. If youth and families are in need of services, resources or want to get involved in any of these opportunities, call 970-945-9300 or email Airen Goodman at email@example.com.