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  • Difference Maker: Melinda Brandt

    A good coach can change a game; a great coach can change a life. Melinda Brandt, head coach of Eagle Valley High School's cross country team, is precisely that coach. Melinda was chosen as this month's difference-maker because she is someone who supports student-athletes to perform at their highest potential and fosters exceptional, well-rounded individuals. In 2008, Melinda Brandt started the EVHS cross-country program. Melinda has impacted hundreds of athletes since then, beginning with 24 athletes in her first season and reaching a high of 60 student-athletes in one season. Melinda has embraced athletes of all abilities with open arms, promoting a welcoming and safe environment for cross country practice. This is an environment that has nurtured exceptional athletes, but it is not her only goal to make better athletes; it is vital for her to build on lifelong values and lessons of the sport and go beyond this by teaching skills by focusing on the mental, emotional, and social sides of a human. Practice is not only a place to improve one's running and endurance, but it is a place to make friends, build connections, and develop life-long skills. Melinda and the coaching staff invest in the whole individual, devoting time every practice to teach essential lessons outside of sports, such as developing a positive mindset and leadership skills. These leadership skills have been demonstrated through lead roles in school plays and as captains of speech and debate teams. Several of her former athletes are now using these skills to make a difference in our community, including Gerry Lopez, who uses running to support his mental health and assists youth in our valley with mental health and wellness, and Eddie Campos, who was named Young Professional of the Year for his outstanding leadership. Melinda says, “I am privileged to coach phenomenal athletes, and the students make her job fun and a joy to go to every day." Melinda isn't the only one having fun at practice. One athlete says, "Coach creates belonging, team spirit, and team collaboration." Melinda has created numerous ways to do that. Each week, she plans one fun thing to do: a color run, scavenger hunt, or team dinner. She wants to bring the kids together by doing something memorable. "If they aren't making connections while running, I want them bonding on other important things outside the sport - building connections and giving them tools to use later in life," Melinda says. A parent of a cross country athlete says, "Melinda believes in character, growth, camaraderie, and fun as much as competition, skills, and goal setting. Because of this mindset, she creates an environment where the team spirit is the foundation of the competitive spirit to elevate." Melinda has a history of helping produce successful athletes who enjoy their time on the team while achieving numerous accolades, such as having three athletes on the State podium in one season. Her success goes beyond the stats; athletes are able to develop into well-rounded individuals as a result of their experiences on the team. This is exactly why Melinda is not just a good coach, but a great one.

  • Youth Spotlight: Georgianna OliverSmith

    Gigi Stages a Solution! Written by: Sandy Schroeder, Director of Strategic Impact “This is for everyone!”  By “this”, Gigi means an opportunity to experience a theater club for young people.  By “everyone” she means people with theater experience, people with NO expertise, and those who are curious.  The “why” she is doing this is the reason she has been selected as the Youth Spotlight for this month. Georgianna OliverSmith (Gigi) has been around the stage since she was six years old.  It is what feeds her soul, the ability to artistically express herself, feel emotions, and develop her authentic self.  Now, as a junior at Battle Mountain High School, she continues to participate in the productions offered by the school.  But it’s just not enough. Gigi has noticed that when the final curtain falls on any given production, the people who, like her, thrive on the adrenaline that a production creates are left with an empty spot.  They need the emotional release. They need the connectedness that a “team” provides.  Being together, practicing without judgement, and bonding over the creation of a product for community consumption keeps people emotionally well.  Gigi is developing a solution to meet this exact need. Gigi, with the help of Valley’s Voice, is pitching a Theater Club.  Youth of any age or ability are welcome to join and be a part of the “team”.  Here they will find others who seek connection, a safe place to “try on” different characters, and learn a little something about theater.  The club will meet 52 weeks per year, a consistent connection for youth who need it, want it, and enjoy it. Gigi has distinguished herself.  She discovered what makes her thrive and what challenges she faces when that “something” is not present.  Then, she thought of others who may have the same need and she hatched a solution.  The distinguishing part: she is a youth!  Youth know youth best.  When adults take time and make the energy to listen, and listen carefully, adults quickly learn that youth are the experts for youth.  They have the power and drive to carve their own paths to success.  Gigi is not alone; so many more solutions are out there for young people who struggle. If we think about it, the “curtain falls” on lots of things that youth do. The track season ends, the Debate Club is off for a month, Karate classes take a break. Where are our other Gigis?  Where are youth who want to make a difference for youth?  PROMISE: Mountain Youth is here to support you and your solution.  Give us a chance to help you help each other. Valley’s Voice is the structure that can support you the same way it is supporting Gigi’s solution. If you have a passion and are willing to share that passion with others so they feel better about life, Valley’s Voice will help you learn to lead a project that meets a community need. Learn more at valleysvoice.org or contact Cam Dole (cdole@mountainyouth.org). By Sandy Schroeder Sandy is the Director of Community Engagement at Mountain Youth and has been involved with youth for more than 30 years. As an advocate for youth voice, she helped youth design Valley’s Voice and works with the team frequently. It is, in fact, how she met Gigi!

  • Youth Spotlight: Diana Loera

    Written by: Tsvetelian Fuentes Diana Loera has an important message for all of us: "Advocate for yourself, for your own education and your own life." A message that she lives by. Diana arrived in the valley from Mexico 10 years ago. She was 12 years old, enrolled in EVMS, and had the hardest time. Everything was new and different, the buildings, the students, the grades, the language. During this transition, she never stopped advocating for herself - she would stay after class and always ask her teachers for help. She was at the top of her class in Mexico, and now her grades were not showing that, and she knew it was because she did not speak the language. After the struggles at school, she would go back home, where she had to help her siblings when mom and dad were working two jobs to support the family needs. They could not help her with the English assignments. She wanted to do well in school and knew she deserved a chance at an equitable education. At Eagle Valley High School, Diana learned about how significant community involvement is and participated in the Cycle Effect and the Reading Buddies program at the Public Library. Her self-advocacy led to her advocating for others. After high school, Diana got accepted at Colorado Mountain College and started her journey to obtain her teaching degree. She wanted to find a campus job because her family could not afford to help pay for her studies, so she persisted in asking her counselors for campus job opportunities. In time Diana became an ambassador and later a peer academic coach at TRIO Student Support Services. Trio helps first-generation, low-income students and students with disabilities reach their full potential and achieve academic success. For a year and a half, Diana remained dedicated to her work and classes at CMC, spending 12 hour days at the building. She decided it was time to look for a job opportunity in the community. Around that time, Bright Future Foundation posted a Youth Advisor position, and Diana was the perfect match. She was so grateful for her time at Bright Future Foundation, where many doors opened for her. She learned about all the organizations in the community and soon was promoted to Youth Violence Prevention Specialist. In August of this year, Diana started her student teaching at Edwards Elementary School, and around the same time, she accepted the role of Tu Guia Coordinator. Tu Guia is a project of Mountain Youth where High School students from our valley apply to be tutors for students in elementary and middle school who are behind in academics due to English language development or a mental health challenge. Diana feels honored to be a part of Tu Guia alongside other youth leaders - Ana Garcia, Victoria Aragon, and Britney Chavez. Diana believes interactive teaching inspires, engages, and makes a difference for students and parents alike. One of the unique characteristics of Tu Guia is that the High School tutors are close in age to their students and understand what they are going through in school. What all involved value about Tu Guia is that tutors get to participate in trainings such as "The Fundamentals Of Tutoring, "5 Ways To Incorporate Social Emotional Learning In Your Teaching," and Mandatory reporting. This way, the youth (tutors and students) are empowered with knowledge and skills and create belonging. Diana has also coordinated a matching party for tutors and students at the Ice Rink in Eagle and planned parenting classes that focus on how parents can best support their children. The parenting workshops of Tu Guia expand the impact of education to multiple generations. "There are not many authentic Spanish resources or workshops taught in a relevant way," Diana points out, and now she is an active part in coordinating those much-needed resources and classes. Her advocacy is yielding results and bringing change. Let's teach children in school to advocate for themselves. Let's broaden the mindset of parents from Hispanic heritage and have them understand how things work here, and teach parents to advocate too. Diana's advocacy is growing and becoming multi-layered, multi-generational, and multi-inspirational.

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  • Aprendiendo Juntos | Mountain Youth

    What started as a small What’s App group to connect the Spanish-speaking community has evolved into a successful Facebook live virtual series, Aprendiendo Juntos ( Learning Together). Local experts present and discuss topics including behavioral health, childcare, education, economic assistance, and more. Mountain Youth partners with Eagle Valley Behavioral Health to sponsor community talks throughout the year. These discussions offer participants tools to take into their daily lives that increase well-being and a greater connection to local resources. These family engagement efforts provide a network of support which then evolved into virtual online presentations by trusted community leaders, providing families with connection and community. Join the Whatsapp group to stay connected on resources happening in the community now! JOIN Aprendiendo Juntos (Learning Together) Upcoming Events Multiple Dates Aprendiendo Juntos Para Padres De Familia Forma de Pensar Fri, Jan 14 Facebook Live Jan 14, 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM Facebook Live Estas sesiones proporcionarán a los padres estrategias y técnicas sobre cómo ayudar a sus hijos en la vida y en sus académicos de maneras eficaces. Los padres también adquirirán maneras de ayudar a su propia salud mental y a la de su hijo. Details Insecurity, Comparison and “Keeping Up” Wed, Jan 12 via Zoom, pre-registration required Jan 12, 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM via Zoom, pre-registration required Our children and teens are growing up in a world where they are experiencing high anxiety, insecurity, competitiveness and depression. Join Rosalind Wiseman, a No. 1 New York Times best-selling author, as she presents creating a community for our young people to thrive. Details Multiple Dates Aprendiendo Juntos Para Padres De Familia - Forma de Pensar Fri, Jan 14 Gypsum Creek Middle School Jan 14, 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM Gypsum Creek Middle School, 401 Grundel Way, Gypsum, CO 81637, USA Learn how to foster patience, active listening, and genuine connection with your child, while also understanding, acknowledging, and validating them. Details Técnicas De Respiración y De Reducción Watch Previous Aprendiendo Juntos

  • Tu Guia/Your Guide | Mountain Youth

    TU Guia | Your guide Tu Guia / Your Guide is a youth-led and adult-supported program of Mountain Youth that started in May of 2020. It is for local high school and college students to tutor elementary students from all K-5th schools in Eagle County who may need academic assistance. Tutors create the academic lessons based on the students' needs with a component of social-emotional curriculum. The goal is to individually increase these students' academic levels. In addition, tutors are also working to assist the students' parents in learning how to do this work with their kids on their own in the future. It is a generational program, which makes it unique from other tutoring programs. ​ Become a Tutor Work on social-emotional learning with 1-3 elementary students for one hour a week + one hour of lesson planning a week ​ GET PAID $15 AN HOUR APPLY Sign Up For Tutoring Parents and/or teachers can refer students to Tu Guia. There is an online application that needs to be completed as well as a permission slip that needs to be signed. GET SUPPORT Out of gallery Multiple Dates Aprendiendo Juntos Para Padres De Familia Forma de Pensar Fri, Jan 14 Facebook Live Jan 14, 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM Facebook Live Estas sesiones proporcionarán a los padres estrategias y técnicas sobre cómo ayudar a sus hijos en la vida y en sus académicos de maneras eficaces. Los padres también adquirirán maneras de ayudar a su propia salud mental y a la de su hijo. Details Multiple Dates Aprendiendo Juntos Para Padres De Familia - Forma de Pensar Fri, Jan 14 Gypsum Creek Middle School Jan 14, 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM Gypsum Creek Middle School, 401 Grundel Way, Gypsum, CO 81637, USA Learn how to foster patience, active listening, and genuine connection with your child, while also understanding, acknowledging, and validating them. Details Multiple Dates Aprendiendo Juntos Para Padres De Familia Forma de Pensar Fri, Jan 21 Berry Creek Middle School Jan 21, 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM MST Berry Creek Middle School, 1000 Miller Ranch Rd, Edwards, CO 81632, USA Estas sesiones proporcionarán a los padres estrategias y técnicas sobre cómo ayudar a sus hijos en la vida y en sus académicos de maneras eficaces. Los padres también adquirirán maneras de ayudar a su propia salud mental y a la de su hijo. Details Multiple Dates Aprendiendo Juntos Para Padres De Familia - Forma de Pensar Fri, Jan 21 Berry Creek Middle School Jan 21, 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM Berry Creek Middle School, 1000 Miller Ranch Rd, Edwards, CO 81632, USA Learn how to foster patience, active listening, and genuine connection with your child, while also understanding, acknowledging, and validating them. Details

  • 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 Eagle Valley Behavioral Health to sponsor community talks throughout the year. ECP encourages open conversation between parents, older siblings, and experts on relevant topics. Parents and children in 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. Please join us for these important discussions. ​ Contact Amy Baker, Community Education Manager with questions. Tue, Feb 15 COLORADO MOUNTAIN COLLEGE Essential Family Conversations to Inspire “How do I get my child to listen to me?” “How do I help my child stay away from bad influences?” “How can I help my child be more self-motivated?” “My child is acting like an bossy know-it-all...” RSVP Watch Insecurity, Comparison, and "Keeping Up" with Rosalind Wiseman Watch A Conversation on Identity, Inclusion, & Diversity in Sports with Kate Fagan Video Recorded and Produced by High Five Access Media Past Events and Resources Past ECP Videos Worksheets The Power of Showing Up Refridgerator Sheet Self Care Reflection and Prevention Plan Stress Management Worksheet - CU Depression Center Self Care Worksheet Workplace Self Care Assessment Student/School Self Care Plan Student/School Self Care Assessment Spanish Self Care Preventative Plan Spanish Self Care Assessment Plan ​

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