YouthZone column: Youth-driven Ascent fundraiser supports YouthZone

Robin Tolan

Once a year, teens take a turn helping YouthZone and their communities instead of YouthZone helping them. Through the annual Ascent fundraiser, local youth from Aspen to Parachute put together a showcase to share their understanding of the world around them.

They want the community to know that, though teens may slip or falter, there is always an opportunity for growth and understanding.

Through the years, YouthZone has provided services to youth in trouble and their families who need a guiding path to reconciliation. What started as a program to provide resources for teen involvement in positive activities in 1976 has transitioned to a support system for kids to get through a much harder reality of drugs, vaping, mental health, anxiety, social media bullying, and the juvenile court system.

YouthZone provides the tools and expertise to help youth right the wrongs and readjust their ways to a more positive adolescence in the community and in their families. Community has come together through YouthZone to support these youths.

For 25 years, YouthZone’s annual fundraiser was about kissing pigs. Four years ago, YouthZone stakeholders decided to focus more on what kids are doing and created the YouthZone Ascent. With Ascent, four teams of teens pick an artistic medium to show their support for community and YouthZone. They use this community project and their showcase piece to raise funds to support the organization.

This year, we have four teams that have new projects to present their vision of a better, healthier environment for our communities.

The dance team, Live Fully Now, will perform a dance routine about the importance of living more fully in each moment. In sharing the concept, the girls said high school students struggle with so many different pressures growing up, and they want to use this dance to celebrate the centering achieved by living fully. A few of these young women are back for a second showcase this year.

The mural group came together this summer to paint a mural for the new YouthZone building in Glenwood. The mural expresses the teen’s vision of finding balance in a turbulent world and supporting destigmatizing mental health for teens.

Another group made up of four young men are creating music about the struggle teens face making good choices and staying clean. With the help of their Ascent Team Manager Chris Perry, the band Flannel Apes will have an opportunity to record the songs they bring to the event.

The last group from Flex Family Fitness in Rifle will use Brazilian Jujitsu to share a story about bullying. Flex Family Fitness is working with this group and other kids in its classes to build their leadership and self-confidence skills.

During September, the teams will be reaching out to their communities and local businesses to work with YouthZone to raise $150,000 to support operations and provide scholarships for youth and families that cannot pay.

People can donate to each team scoring the team’s points for raising money, or they can purchase a ticket to the show on Oct. 3 and vote that week. To donate online or to buy tickets, go to or call 970-945-9300.

Doors to Ascent will open at 5:30 p.m. at the Vaudeville Theatre in Glenwood Springs, 915 Grand Ave. For three hours, the Vaudeville team, YouthZone staff, and the Ascent youth teams will share YouthZone’s vision and goals. There will be a silent auction, a paddle raise and an opportunity to bid on a group of fantastic vacations.

Be a part of a better tomorrow for our local youth. Join us for this year’s Ascent on Oct. 3.

Robin Tolan is development director for YouthZone.

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