It starts and ends in the parking lot. For 10 years, Advocates Against Battering and Abuse has brought women to an Outward Bound "survival" course for survivors of abuse. They spend three days in the outdoors doing ropes courses and rock climbing. In those three days, a transformation happens.
"We drive together. We park in the parking lot, and that's where it begins," Advocates executive director Diane Moore said. "Walking away from that parking lot is a metaphor for leaving the world behind. The women have some shyness, some anxiety, but the change in those days is incredible.
"I talk to women in the community who say they still think about Outward Bound."
After a decade of seeing the success of Outward Bound, Moore wants to offer it to a new group of women -- mothers and their 12- to 13-year-old daughters.
Last spring, Moore wrote a grant to the Women's Foundation of Colorado asking the foundation to fund a multilevel intervention program for middle school girls. Taking them on an Outward Bound course was one of the components.
The foundation approved her proposal for one year of funding for the course and also for a four-week after-school program called "On Location" to be offered at Steamboat Springs Middle School.
"We've been hearing more things of concern around middle school girls," Moore said. "We need to know what's happening to our young people. There are pressures that are present at younger ages these days."
Among the "pressures" Moore mentioned were stories of seventh-grade girls engaging in oral sex and drinking.
"There comes a point when it becomes more important to be popular than, for example, to support your girlfriend who is being sexually harassed," Moore said.
Moore hopes that offering a three-day course that gives mothers and daughters a chance to bond will help girls when they find themselves in compromising situations.
"This is not just for high-risk or at-risk youth. This is an opportunity for the whole community," Moore said.
The mother-daughter Outward Bound course will take place May 21 through May 23 in Leadville. The cost of the course is $550, but funding from Advocates and scholarships should cut costs to $25 or $50 per person.
Applications are due April 20. A maximum of eight mothers and eight daughters can attend.
Register by calling Diane at 879-2034.
-- To reach Autumn Phillips call 871-4210
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org