Community Grants Stories: Nurturing the Next Generation

In a time of ever-increasing need in our community, we sometimes don’t have the resources to prioritize the other aspects of life that help us thrive. Meeting basic needs is fundamental to caring for our community. As humans, we also need moments of joy.

Living in the Gunnison Valley, we’re fortunate to be surrounded by passionate people committed to providing for all our needs. To be a resilient community, we need connection, creativity, and fun. The Community Grants Stories we highlight this month focus on organizations that provide opportunity for local youth.

Adaptive Sports Center

For 25 years, Adaptive Sports Center has been providing recreational opportunities for individuals with disabilities of all ages. Founded to provide ski instruction and equipment to individuals with disabilities, the recreational opportunities they offer have expanded to include everything from mountain biking and skiing to ice climbing and kayaking serving over 1,200 people per year. While their programming took a hit during the first year of the pandemic, they were able to ramp offerings back up in 2021 and shared this story:

For years, Tony Haus participated in the ASC’s Community Kids programming for students in the Gunnison Valley. Tony’s graduation from high school coincided with the pandemic, so his transition from school to Six Points was challenging, as programs were scaled back or cancelled. The second year of the pandemic brought more normalcy, as Adaptive and other Valley organizations became more proficient at navigating the pandemic safely. The Six Points crew eagerly rafted, biked, hiked, and kayaked their way through the summer. Last winter, Tony enjoyed full days under the sun, tearing through powder with his favorite instructors. Special Olympics competitions resumed after a year’s hiatus, and Adaptive took a team from the Gunnison Valley to the regional and state competitions. Tony competed in two events AND represented the Gunnison Valley by singing the national anthem to start both competitions. Way to go, Tony! We are so proud of you! 

Good job, Tony, and congratulations to Adaptive for evolving in the face of such challenging circumstances.

Gunnison Watershed School District- Crested Butte Community School Enrichment Program

While most of our Community Grants go to local nonprofit organizations, other public entities and programs are invited to apply for funds that serve the public at large. We were proud to support the Crested Butte Community School Enrichment Program in 2021. They shared with us a story about Will.

Will is a shy, artistic 15-year-old who loves acting, singing, and painting. He joined the Enrichment Program Sound & Lighting Design club held at the Center for the Arts in the fall. Together, with nine other middle school & high school students, he learned what goes on behind the scenes of every production. Walking high up on the catwalks, students learned about counterweights and rigging. They learned to program and focus the lights. In the tech booth, they got to program the sound and lighting boards. The students experimented with the hazer to create artificial fog on the stage as well as other cool special effects. Following the 8-week club Will spoke with Andrea, the club teacher, about further developing his new interests and skills. Now Will has a part-time job at the Center for the Arts doing what he loves!

Thank you to the Crested Butte Community School Enrichment Program for supporting students in pursuing their passions.

West Elk Hockey Association

While the Gunnison Valley may be most known for outdoor recreation like skiing and mountain biking, there is also a thriving hockey culture here, thanks in part to the West Elk Hockey Association (WEHA). WEHA officially formed in 2014, uniting the Gunnison and Crested Butte hockey programs to build a stronger support structure for hockey across the Gunnison Valley. Their story of impact tells how a local kid found his confidence, and a place to fit in, on the ice.

During this season, we had many great kids come through our Mini/Mite Hockey program at WEHA. We had one kid who stood out to me; we will call this kid Jimmy. According to Jimmy’s parents, he was a shy and pretty reserved kid at school and at home. He lacked some self-confidence as well. On his first day of practice, he was one of the kids who didn’t want to get on the ice because he was nervous and scared. Our fantastic coaches gave Jimmy some extra instruction throughout the practice sessions and really helped build up his confidence. By week 4, Jimmy was becoming a natural on the ice; he was confident in himself and willing to try new and more advanced skills. His parents mentioned that they could see this confidence rolling over into his school work and other parts of his life.

Thank you, WEHA, for nurturing local youth.

More Stories Like These

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