Will Grandbois
wgrandbois@postindependent.com

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April 24, 2014
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5Point project turns dreams into reality

“Adventure” has certain associations when it comes to the 5Point Film Festival, but organizers want to make it clear that, when it comes to their Dream Project scholarship, they mean it in the broadest possible terms.

“It doesn’t have to be recreational,” said Sarah Wood, executive director of 5Point. “They’re out doing something they care about, and that’s what we want to instill,” added Dream Project Manager Tracy Wilson.

It is the fourth year 5Point has partnered with Timbers Resorts to bring five $1,500 scholarships for high schoolers to challenge themselves and give back to their community. Past recipients have used the funds to travel all over the world as well as invest in hyperlocal projects within the valley.

This year, Liam Kelly, Juliette Moffroid, Fiona Laird, Nic Reitman and Rotceh Vazquez were selected from about two dozen applicants. “It is about more than just the action you’re seeing on the screen. It’s about defining adventure for yourself,” Wood said before the group was recognized on stage during the first set of outdoor adventure films on Thursday night.

The Winners

• Liam Kelly: An Eagle Scout and a senior at Bridges High School, he plans to support the greater Carbondale area by fulfilling his dream of purchasing and training himself on amateur radio emergency communications systems. He will also be building and installing a solar array in order to power his radio system, making it self-sufficient.

“I’ve always been very passionate about both community service and amateur radio,” Kelly said.

Kelly intends to work with emergency radio organizations like ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) and RACES (Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service) and hopes to have something in place for their simulated emergency field day in June. He emphasized the importance of communication systems in emergencies, noting that those helping or coordinating assistance are often not in the affected area.

• Fiona Laird: A sophomore at Roaring Fork High School (RFHS), she wants to create an outdoor courtyard at the school.

“There’s no real place for students to eat or hang out outdoors,” Laird observed.

She has heard a lot of support for the idea from her classmates and hopes other students will get involved in the project.

“I welcome ideas and help from the community to make this a reality,” she said.

Laird envisions a landscaped space with trees and tables, with construction scheduled for late summer or early fall. It will likely take extra funding to make her dream a reality, but the Dream Project has given her the help she needs to get started.

“It’s a really good opportunity for people to do what they’ve always wanted to do, and it helps as a little push to make it happen.”

• Juliette Moffroid: A senior at Colorado Rocky Mountain School (CRMS), she will be spending the end of July and the beginning of August backpacking the John Muir Trail. She’ll capture her experience along the way in the form of artwork, which she will display to inspire others. She also intends to donate some of the art to conservation organizations.

“I heard about all these amazing adventures. I thought I never do it,” said Moffroid. “It was a good way for me to tie together all the things I’d been thinking about.”

Moffroid is still working on finding a partner for the volunteer program she applied for.

“I have this huge adventure, and it’s kinda daunting to go on my own,” she admitted. “But because it’s part of the Dream Project I have to commit. I can’t back out now.”

For Moffroid, that’s a good thing. “I’m so excited,” she said. “I can’t even believe that it’s actually happening.”

• Nic Reitman: This CRMS senior will blend mountaineering and rural development in his trip to the country of Georgia. He’ll work on sustainable agriculture and conservation with Rural Development for Future Georgia, but he also intends to tackle a host of difficult mountains including Kazbek, Ushba and Tetnuldi.

Reitman has deep roots in the former Soviet bloc.

“My dad hails from Russia, and I speak fluent Russian and I have a lot of family in Georgia,” he said. “I’d been wanting to get up to Georgia for some time, but hadn’t really had the funds to do it.”

The Dream Project made it possible.

“My passion for travel and the mountains and community service fueled my decision and motivation to apply. It just seemed like a stellar opportunity to make your dream come true,” Reitman said. “I encourage other kids in the valley to apply. It’s an incredible opportunity that’s totally feasible.”

• Rotceh Vazquez: A CRMS junior, she intends to become fluent in American Sign Language and start a deaf camp for local kids.

“I was first introduced to the deaf culture in middle school. We took a trip to the Aspen Camp of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing,” Vazquez explained. “I don’t really know anyone who uses sign language as a primary language, but I just thought it was really beautiful.”

Vazquez has learned some sign language on her own, through books and the web, but hasn’t had the chance to undergo formal training. Now, she has both a reason and the means. The deaf camp, she said, is still in the planning stages. She’s committed to giving it the forethought needed “to make sure everything runs smoothly and is successful.

“I’m excited to embark on this new journey,” she added.

Transformative experiences

2013 recipient Anne-Marie Lewis said she “came back completely changed” from her Dream Project-funded trip to the Bolivian Amazon. Lewis had just finished her freshman year at Colorado Rocky Mountain School when she enrolled in the Shoulder-To-Shoulder Program and helped a community set up filters for clean water.

“I would definitely encourage people to apply for the Dream Project,” Lewis continued. She said she’d be interested in the Amazon for a long time, but the experience of being there was something else entirely. “Your best shot at understanding something or to fix a problem is to physically immerse yourself,” she said.

She was particularly struck by the kindness and lack of materialism in Bolivia — a stark contrast from the spirit of the United States.

“I took away more and learned more from that experience than I could ever physically help them,” she added.

Lewis feels the program serves a purpose beyond the five scholarships.

“Once someone has a plan mapped out, they’re going to keep thinking about it,” Lewis said. “If I didn’t get the scholarship, I still would have pushed to figure out how to make it happen.”

“Whether they make it or not, we’re getting a group of kids thinking,” agreed Wilson. “We want to double the number of applications. We want to triple them.”

The 2015 application process has not yet begun, but interested students can read more about the program at 5pointfilm.org/dream.


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The Post Independent Updated Apr 24, 2014 11:10PM Published Apr 25, 2014 04:27PM Copyright 2014 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.