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    • Difference Maker: Hillary Higgins

      Difference Maker: Hillary Higgins Socks, Students, and Self Care! You might be wondering how the se three things are related. First, let me introduce you to Hillary Higgins; she is a true local, unlike any other! Hillary grew up in Vail and graduated from BMHS. Hillary was not the typical high schooler; she did not just volunteer to pad her college resume. The passion for community service was instilled in Hillary from a young age by her parents. Throughout high school, Hillary was a part of the Reading Buddies Program at Meadow Mountain Elementary School, she volunteered at Special Olympics and participated in mission trips. Serving the community everywhere she goes, Hillary took her guiding principle and purpose for community service to the University of Northern Colorado, where she received her Bachelors’s and Master’s Degree in Sociology. During undergrad, Hillary started a bilingual, multicultural language program for after school elementary students. She spent 3+ years running this program. Hillary’s giving back did not stop there. She then got involved in helping teenage gang members and their families at high schools in Greeley, CO; where she taught English as a Second Language to the whole family to help reduce high school truancy and build positive family dynamics. Next, Hillary helped start a Chicano Art Festival that grew from 40 people to over 400 people. Years later, these programs are still in place in Greeley, CO. You may still be wondering where “socks, students, and self-care” come into this story. Self-care is one of the driving forces behind Hillary’s passion for helping others. Self-care can look different for everyone, so when Hillary learned last year that some students didn’t have access to hygiene supplies, she jumped into action. Hillary partnered with Red Ribbon Project, Mountain Youth, and other local organizations to help with the Hygiene Supply Drive. The Hygiene Drive received over $600 in cash/Venmo donations, and over ten community partners, churches & businesses placed collection bins in their offices. In just over six weeks, over 2,000 hygiene supply items were donated. After finding out in 2020 that the most requested item from high schoolers in Eagle County was socks, Hillary started a sock drive, and in only a month, received $769 & over 200 pairs donated. People don’t realize there are homeless and underprivileged youth in Eagle County. Homelessness looks different here, which can include couch-surfing or living in a car. “Being from this community and knowing there are students in need just breaks my heart. I know this community is overflowing with many great, wonderful, generous people wanting to help, just not knowing how.” Once the word got out, a multitude of community members reached out to help. Hillary met people in parking lots, received daily Venmo notifications, and had eleven bins full of socks. Days after the end of the drive, Hillary is still accepting donations. “The generosity in the community doesn’t stop.” Socks were dropped off at local schools and distributed throughout the community. If you are interested in donating, reach out to Hillary via email at Hillaryhiggins13@gmail.com or donate via Venmo to @Hillary-Higgins-6 (under “what’s this for” add Socks) Hillary wants to thank her parents, Tom and Jackie Higgins, her siblings and their significant others, her boyfriend, Miguel Jauregui, and friends, the Vail Police Department & Communication Center, Eagle River Presbyterian Church, SmartWool, and all community members and partners who made this sock drive successful! Kind-hearted, thoughtful, and hardworking are a few words to describe Hillary Higgins, and we are so thankful to have her continuing to make a difference in our community. Hillary mentioned that her motto is, “If we are going to lead, we need to leave a positive legacy.” If this is the start of her legacy, I can only imagine the enormous impact she will continue to add to her already glowing legacy. Be on the lookout around Thanksgiving 2021 for the next community drive.

    • Youth Spotlight: Owen Grimmer

      The Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy (VSSA), a public school in Minturn that allows students to train year-round in skiing or snowboarding, produces many top-notch athletes and many vibrant, well-rounded students—students like Owen Grimmer. Owen is a VSSA student, a talented cross-country skier, and an excellent representative of the Eagle County community. Owen has attended VSSA since 5th grade and is now a junior, already preparing for a college education in the near future. Natural leadership is a quality that not many people are born with. Owen, however, is an exception to the rule. Natural leaders influence those around them, and they inspire their friends and colleagues to be better versions of themselves. They never put themselves first and continuously check in with their teammates to make sure everyone is on the same page. True leaders are positive in the face of adversity and brave when things get tough. They are not afraid of a challenge—and constantly welcome it. Owen has leadership in abundance, and his positivity is infectious. Although I have not spent a lot of time with Owen, I have witnessed his exceptional leadership. VSSA guidance counselor Charlene Whitney recruited Owen to be on the Valley's Voice Youth Executive Board (YEB) this 20-21 schoolyear. As the youth engagement coordinator and adult support for this program, I meet with the YEB every other Sunday. At every meeting, Owen is a standout. At one meeting, in particular, each member of the YEB brought a group of friends to brainstorm, plan, and propose a community passion project. Not only did Owen demonstrate leadership and initiative by being the first person to sign his group up, but his group ended up receiving the honorable mention award for their extraordinary pitch. Along with Owen, the group included YEB members Dylan Boyes and Joey Greenblatt, along with Jack Ganley – all VSSA students. They focused on substance use for the project, specifically, vaping. Their idea was to bring high school and middle school students together and have high school students talk about why vaping is not a healthy choice with the goal of discouraging electronic vapor product usage. This idea is brilliant because it can be a fully youth-led project and allows the group to take ownership and demonstrate their influence. An anti-vaping lecture led by adults wouldn't be effective, but a discussion led by respected, older peers could have a lasting impact. Owen leads the charge for meaningful change and has the analytical and organizational skills to put that change into action. Other people in his life recognize his natural leadership as well. Scott Hopkins, a science teacher at VSSA, remembers when Owen's 7th-grade science fair project took him to the State Science Fair in Fort Collins, which Mr. Hopkins attended with Owen and his family. They had a blast touring campus, following the awards program and even coded a video game together! Mr. Hopkins shares that "Owen was enthusiastic the entire time and eager to try all of the activities made available to him during the long weekend. Owen's innate curiosity continues to shine through as he works his way through his junior year in my chemistry class. His thoughtful questions and added insight shine as examples of his desire to deeply understand the content and skills he is being taught. It has been so rewarding to get to know Owen more and more each year and to see him excel in so many areas of life - not to mention seeing him live out a desire to help others in his community." When asked who he most looks up to, Owen mentioned his father, Geoffrey Grimmer. Owen said that he is deeply inspired by his dad's hard work and determination to challenge himself while doing what he loves in the process. Owen is especially proud that his dad, Mr. Grimmer, co-founded Zealous Schools here in Eagle County in September 2017. Part of Zealous Schools' mission is to take students beyond traditional learning and allow them to develop critical thinking and leadership skills. It is no surprise that Mr. Grimmer values leadership in young people, as Owen embodies Zealous Schools' mantra of a "healthy citizen, critical thinker, and zealous learner." To put it merely, Eagle County is lucky to have a youth like Owen Grimmer, who strives to live his life to the fullest every day. If Owen could advise other youth and Vail Valley residents about how to live a happier life, he would tell them to "take advantage of things that Vail has to offer" and "just have fun!" I could not agree more. By: Anabel Johnson, Youth Engagement Coordinator

    • Difference Maker: Tia Luck

      How do you define equity? Tia Luck, Eagle County Schools Equity Coordinator, illustrates that equity is a term used so often. “Equity means something a little different to every person and it is rooted in our own identity and goals” Luck explains. Eagle County Schools defines equity in a manner that allows every student to feel valued and be successful without feeling the need to change who they are. Everything about them, their lives, and circumstances should contribute to them to feel valued at school. Tia Luck and Eagle County Schools are taking initiative to improve opportunities for each student, regardless of differences that may include culture, race, gender identity, ability, age, beliefs, economics, learning preferences, academic history, and other factors. Eagle County Schools has always focused on being a safe place for all students. Tia believes that we are a community where all students are loved by their school and teachers. “By that definition, we have always been a district focused on equity. But it is not just about loving our students, it is about loving them along with understanding their backgrounds and circumstances, including looking at the historical context,” continues Luck. A component of the District’s deep equity work incorporates education and practices to improve understanding of the cultures and history our students are bringing, and then prioritizing opportunities to build bridges between people. Luck encourages this for adults and young people in the community. Michelle Stecher, Eagle County Schools Board of Education members and Mountain Youth executive director is thrilled about the increased investment of the District in equity. As Stecher explains, “Acknowledging the backgrounds of each of our students and the gift of unique perspectives is an advantage in the learning environments we are striving to create, and a boost for each student in their development.” The overall vision for equity in Eagle County Schools is to take steps to eliminate the predictability of success. Currently, success is relatively predictable by certain demographics. Luck believes, “This is unjust. We are not going to see equal academic achievement until we first address access and opportunity.” Enter the Youth Equity Stewardship, where students join with teachers and district-level leaders to become more involved in working to have their voice heard and be leaders in impacting the environments in their schools. These young people are working with the Board of Education and various committees to help steer projects and address opportunities. In this manner, decisions are made WITH students and families versus FOR students and families. This aligns well with Mountain Youth’s goal of collaborating with youth to uplift their voices to guide the work of our organization, and the broader community. “Through the youth-led Valley’s Voice framework, a Parent Advisory Committee, and an extremely active Aprendiendo Juntos Spanish What’s App community, Mountain Youth is working in cooperation with the District and other community partners to build pipelines and to prioritize the voices of those most impacted by specific decisions,” explains Stecher. The vision of Eagle County Schools starts with students and carries through staff, where waves of change in a sense of belonging for all people within our community can be felt. Luck offers a call to action. “We each have a responsibility to step outside of our normal circles. Get to know people who have different experiences than us. Start to build new and different mutual relationships. Through this, we can begin to understand different experiences and perspectives. We can find more in common with people we don’t normally connect with. It is natural to build relationships with people that have things in common with you. There is nothing wrong with that. It’s also important to step outside that comfortable space to help build a better, connected community,” Luck advises. Tips to take action now: Share experiences alongside people who have different perspectives than you. Seek out opportunities to listen to and engage with topics and work important to you. Embrace a mindset of serving WITH and not FOR others. Collaborate. With a community rich in services and initiatives, research and join forces to strengthen local efforts. Think locally. Needs exist here in our community, and there are plenty of opportunities to get involved. Give generously. Be it via time or financial gifts, invest in efforts addressing equity and working tireless to build bridges. Learn more about the great work being led by Eagle County Schools at https://www.eagleschools.net/sites/default/files/website/Communications/19-20StratPlanPagesRev.pdf

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    • All Youth Thrive | Mountain Youth | Edwards,CO

      youth /yo͞oTH/ noun: youth; plural noun: youths the period between childhood and adult age; anyone between the ages of 9 and 25. About Us Mountain Youth continues to make a positive impact on young people’s lives. Learn about the the largest data assessment effort administered biennially to middle and high school students, and the campaign. Are you a young person passionate about making change? Learn more about . Parents, caregivers and trusted adults are invited to join the conversation through . Take a minute to learn how we all work together, because you are not alone. Need to know more about Graduated Drivers Licensing Laws in English and Spanish, watch our GDL presentations on our . Healthy Kids Colorado Survey "Be Your Best U." Social Norms Valley's Voice Eat Chat Parent Safe Driving Page ​ All of our work embodies empowering youth to thrive! Meet The Team Youth Engagement Coordinator Michelle Stecher Executive Director Anabel Johnson Jess Christensen Safe Driving Manager Amy Baker Family Education Manager BLOG Youth Spotlight Natural leadership is a quality that not many people are born with. Owen, however, is an exception to the rule. . — Name, Title Difference Maker Self-care is one of the driving forces behind Hillary’s passion for helping others. Self-care can look different for everyone" CALENDAR FREE Virtual Oil Pastel Art Class with Alpine Arts Sun, Jan 24 Zoom Jan 24, 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM Zoom Join us for a fun creative Oil Pastel Art Class for Middle Schoolers, guided by Alpine Arts Share RSVP ESE Meeting #2 Mon, Jan 25 Zoom Jan 25, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM Zoom Come learn how to make educated choices pertaining to your sexual and reproductive health from Betsy Cairo. Betsy Cairo has been teaching for 25 years and won the AASECT Sexuality Educator of the Year award in 2017. Share RSVP FREE Virtual Pottery Class with Dewey Dabbles Wed, Jan 27 Zoom Jan 27, 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM Zoom Join us for a fun creative Pottery Art class for Middle Schoolers, guided by Dewey Dabbles Share RSVP FREE Virtual Foil & Toil Art Class with Alpine Arts Sun, Feb 07 Zoom Feb 07, 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM Zoom Start the New Year with a creative and unique Foil and Toil Art Class for High Schoolers, taught virtually by Alpine Arts! Share RSVP Kids & Anxiety: Strategies to Help Wed, Feb 24 Zoom Feb 24, 6:00 PM Zoom The Pandemic continues to challenge both parents and kids anxiety systems at this time. This talk will focus on specific tools for parents as well as tools as parents you can use to help your kids through their anxiety at this time. Share RSVP

    • Healthy Kids CO Survey | Mountain Youth

      Healthy Kids Colorado Survey is an important tool for educators, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and community program providers to truly know what issues young people are facing and how we can work together to help them learn and thrive. The Healthy Kids Colorado Survey Mountain Youth coordinated the administration of the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey for the seventh time over a twelve-year span in November of 2019. Partnering with 14 public and private schools, 3,786 students were surveyed, providing valuable insight about 6th -12th graders in the Eagle River Valley. This insight allows educators, nonprofit leaders, policymakers, and community program providers to keep a pulse on the behaviors, attitudes, and perceptions of young people in the community.. This data is used to steer programming and secure much-needed resources, helping local and statewide policy efforts by utilizing the identified strengths and barriers facing youth. HKCS data helps bring in millions of dollars annually for community partners to support identified needs. Mountain Youth has partnered with Eagle Valley Behavioral Health, an outreach of Vail Health, to introduce the to the community. This user-friendly platform allows for a better understanding and breakdown of middle and high school youth behavioral data. The dashboard incorporates data from past years to recognize trends. Users will be able to filter by various demographics for 2015-2019 data. The dashboard is accessible in English and Spanish. It breaks down the information from different behavior areas by years and allows users to filter by grade, age, gender, and ethnicity Healthy Kids Colorado Survey Dashboard Download Tableau Reader Start Navigating Dashboard 2019 Middle School Survey Healthy Kids Colorado Survey 2019 Eagle County 2019 High School Survey 2019 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey results data Eagle County 2019 Eagle County Highlights Show More 2017 Eagle County Highlights 2017 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey results data Eagle County Highlights 2015 Eagle County Survey 2015 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey results data Eagle County 2017 Middle School Survey Healthy Kids Colorado Survey 2017 Eagle County Show More 2017 Eagle County HS Data 2017 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey data Eagle County High School results 2017 Colorado State Results Healthy Kids Colorado state information data results 2017 Statewide Data/Reports Healthy Kids Colorado overall data results Show More Social Norms Campaign

    • Eat Chat Parent | Mountain Youth

      Eat Chat Parent Eat Chat Parent (ECP) is integral in creating a better community for all through open dialog and tackling tough topics. Through community conversations, the Parent Advisory Council and information from the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey , we create a robust offering of two-generation learning seminars. Because of your support, Eat Chat Parent received the Vail Valley Partnership Community Impact Award in 2019. Mountain Youth partners with to sponsor community talks throughout the year.ECP encourages open conversation between parents, older siblings and experts on relevant topics. Parents and children fifth grade and up are invited to attend these panel discussions with professional speakers to share and learn new skills for more effective parenting and discover available resources. join us for these important discussions. Please ​ Contact Amy Baker, Community Education Manager with questions. Watch The Power of Showing Up Upcoming Events Kids & Anxiety: Strategies to Help Feb 24, 6:00 PM Zoom The Pandemic continues to challenge both parents and kids anxiety systems at this time. This talk will focus on specific tools for parents as well as tools as parents you can use to help your kids through their anxiety at this time. Share Register All Videos Play Video Share Whole Channel This Video Facebook Twitter Pinterest Tumblr Copy Link Link Copied Search video... Now Playing Eat Chat Parent - What is Your Child Watching Online? 01:15:00 Play Video Now Playing The Power of Showing Up | Eat Chat Parent 01:29:34 Play Video Now Playing Valley's Voice Testimonials 00:21 Play Video Now Playing Eat Chat Parent - Parenting in a Pandemic with Dr. Laura Markham 01:25:47 Play Video

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