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Column: Anderson Ranch and YouthZone partner in visual storytelling

Jami Hayes
For YouthZone

YouthZone is proud to partner with nonprofits and entities within the Roaring Fork and Grand River Valleys to empower and support community youth and families. We are committed to raising the healthiest youth possible, which is an effort that includes our entire community. Therefore, we rely on teachers, counselors, police officers, and professionals. Collaboration with local and state partners is an integral part of YouthZone operations.

In these efforts, we are thrilled to continue the YouthZone-Anderson Ranch Arts Center partnership for the second year, through the Visual Storytelling Workshops. The most recent workshop occurred between October and November of this year for four weeks. Held at the YouthZone headquarters in Glenwood Springs, eighth through 12th-grade students explored storytelling and memory through art. Students utilized the creative processes of photography, sounds and video to express themselves.



The Visual Storytelling Workshops aim to equip teens with creative tools to document their community and personal experiences. By using their own voices, these workshops provide an opportunity for teens to explore alternative and creative outlets of empowerment. Documenting their lives and perspectives gives them a voice that may otherwise be unheard and gives rise to a unique form of personal expression.

For some teens, it can be challenging to engage in programs that exist in spaces where they might not feel yet a sense of safety and belonging, alternative experiences such as this collaboration allows them to become a part of a different learning community, as well as expand their voice. YouthZone, along with our collaborative partners, aims to provide alternative settings for youth to explore a sense of self through creative, hands-on experiences.



Nine students participated in the October through November workshop. Each participant created a video or physical piece of work that connected to the topic of storytelling. They were able to learn more about themselves, their interaction with the world around them, and developed the ability to translate their thoughts and feelings into an artistic form of expression.

Olivia Martinez, Latinx Arts Community Leader and Children’s Program Coordinator at Anderson Ranch Arts Center, puts it simply, “Art always has a social impact, so it has been fantastic to partner with YouthZone ensuring that teens have opportunities in their community to express their creativity. The stories and artwork that these teens have created are not only a representation of who they are but also of their communities. Anderson Ranch provides the faculty and materials for the workshops and YouthZone works to recruit students who would benefit and enjoy programs like these. They generously open their studio space up for workshops as well. This ensures that the art program is accessible to teens living in the Roaring Fork Valley and all along the Western Slope of Colorado.”

With the generous sponsorship of the Bessie Minor Swift Foundation, these student’s experiences culminated in a group exhibition at the Anderson Ranch Patton-Malott Gallery this past November.

YouthZone is a family-first non-profit that supports parenting figures, families, and adolescents. From Aspen to Parachute, we offer parent counseling and education services, family resources, and comprehensive assessment and advocacy to inspire healthy relationships between youth, families, and communities. To learn more about how YouthZone can help, please call us at 970-945-9300 or visit http://www.youthzone.com.

Jami Hayes is the Executive Director for YouthZone and has been working with youth and families throughout her career. Jami has spent the last 14 years working with the Roaring Fork School District, leading, and working to improve the education experience for local families.


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