Our recreation program consists of daily, organized recreational activities run right when our youth are released from school. Active movement is a necessity for our youth in order to maintain the health of their minds and bodies. We work in collaboration with the Front Rangers Cycling Club and Rude Recreation Center to put our kids on cycling, football, and soccer teams. Every week, a sensei runs a karate class for interested youth.
Mindfulness & SEAL
Mindfulness is the process of helping our youth tune in to their bodies and minds in a positive, non-judgmental way. Often, young people do not have a say in what happens to them, but they do have control over how they respond to it. We seek to help young people reclaim their power by learning (and practicing) coping skills and by building strong attachments with our staff. The center uses Trust Based-Relational Intervention (TBRI) as a behavioral and emotional model for guiding care. This model believes that, by focusing on strengthening the connection between children and caregivers, secure attachments can be formed. We run weekly TBRI-based nurture groups to work towards these attachments and to teach life skills in a fun, engaging way.
We want mindfulness to be taught playfully. From deep breathing during a bell to mindfully eating chocolate, these lessons allow our youth to practice valuable skills that they can pull from when they need. Yoga classes engage the kids’ bodies in their mindfulness practice and remind them to always return to their breath.
Each day, our after school program has dedicated time to practice literacy and math, as well as to complete homework. Tutors work individually with youth who are struggling in their classes. iReady, an online learning platform, helps kids supplement their school learning with individually-tailored lessons.
During out-of-school time, we take our kids all around Colorado, seeking memorable and educational experiences. We aim to expose our youth to many different opportunities, so that they can assess for themselves how they want to connect with the world. Learning, to us, happens whenever a conflict is understood and children use their voices to express their needs. Learning also happens when we teach kids to use a camera or clean up toys after playing. With this spectrum of learning, we try to make the most out of our face-to-face moments, big or small.
When I was younger, I didn’t really have a place to go or a place to fit in and I started going to the Sun Valley Youth Center Church. It was very hard for me in the beginning because I felt like I was an outcast and that I was different from everyone but then the more that I went the more that I realized who I could really be in what I could become.
Art-based programming is the area that our youth crave most. From making music to dancing, painting, designing comic books, or doing improv, the kids in Sun Valley love to create. Art is a means for our youth to own their voices and to present them to the world. In Fall 2018, the kids presented at their first Art Showcase (with elementary schoolers and teens combined), where they read poems, danced, and sold photography.
Art is the one activity that engrosses and calms staff and kids alike. In this way, we are able to co-create a more enjoyable environment for everyone to be their most comfortable selves in.
As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we launched a virtual program that youth can access from their homes. Virtual offerings run daily, just like on site care. The first hour of the afternoon is focused around homework and literacy support. The second hour is when our programs run. These have included: improv, art, character building through storytelling, relationships with self and others, hangouts, legos in collaboration with Snapology, recreation, and others.
In order to provide balanced and nutritious meals for our youth, the center partners with Sun Valley Kitchen, a nonprofit restaurant and community space. The Sun Valley Kitchen prepares dinner daily for the kids enrolled in our center and for other families in the community. During the summer, we also offer breakfast and lunch.
In addition to our daily meals, each room of the center also has a snack bowl (typically filled with fresh fruit, crackers, and granola bars) that youth can access at all times. Every child at SVYC has a water bottle of their own, too. We teach our kids about the impact of hydrating and feeding their bodies; this simple act can often change everything.