Council plans fun functions for youngsters

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Efforts to organize a youth service council in south Routt County have made strides through the summer, but now it's time to put things on hold and let the young people have fun.

Grand Futures, a substance abuse prevention agency, expressed interest in organizing a youth group in south Routt in 1998 after it recognized there was a problem with matching children and adults in the community with services and activities.

At a spring public meeting held by Grand Futures community coordinator Susan Phillips, young people said the biggest problem with life in south Routt was that there was not enough to do at night in the summer.

Since then, eight youth began organizing a youth council with Grand Futures.

The council will be used as a liaison group between the young people in south Routt and service and activity providers in the area, Phillips said. It will be driven by the young people, with direction from adults. Other community agencies involved with the group will provide services as needed.

"If you have youth taking the lead in these projects, you get more buy in from the other kids in the community," Phillips said.

So far, the council has put together two nighttime activities this month.

On Aug. 18, there will be a dance at either the Soroco Middle School or the South Routt Elementary School the site has not been chosen yet.

Then, if everything works out, on Aug. 24 the council will organize a serious game of night tag at Decker Park.

"That will be kind of a take-back-the-night activity," Phillips said.

The park has been a source of problems with young people in south Routt and the activity is an attempt to present positive alternative for the youth, she said

"The park just happens to be a place where the kids hang out," Oak Creek Chief of Police Dan Kelliher said.

Some young people have been kicked out of the park because they were caught vandalizing equipment and fighting, he said.

However, most youth are just hanging out and doing what young people do and that's fine, Kelliher added.

Oak Creek police officer Dave Miller is working with Grand Futures and the youth council to organize the night tag game.

"It's basically hide and seek but it's at night," Dillon Kane said.

Kane, 13, said night tag was something that he and his friends always did in the summer. But since a 10 p.m. youth curfew was started in Oak Creek last month, the games were stopped.

"That's when everyone got together and came up with the idea of night tag," he said.

He hopes to get permission to have a game once a week.

Miller and the council will go in front of the Oak Creek Board of Trustees on Thursday to get a permit to be in the park after curfew. The event is planned to go until 12:30 a.m.

The dance and the game of night tag are examples of activities for everyone, especially children who haven't bought in to the extracurricular activities at their schools, Phillips said.

Not all people are going to be involved with sports or band in school, she said.

"If you're not interested in the traditional outlets, there's not much to do," Phillips said.

Often, those are the youth who associate themselves with peer groups involved with alcohol and drugs, mainly because they don't have another social network to identify to.

One goal of the council is to get youth from all different peer groups to give input on activities for everyone, Phillips said.

Despite the first two activities organized, the youth council still has a lot of work to do before it is a a complete council.

"Before we can even think about being sustainable, we have to come up with a shared vision," Phillips said.

Also, more youth need to get on the council.

Though there's work to do, Phillips felt it was a good idea to start scheduling activities.

"We've had some meetings, but we need to do something fun to keep the kids engaged," she said.

To reach Doug Crowl call 871-4206 or e-mail dcrowl@amigo.net

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