An option for at-risk youth |

An option for at-risk youth

Dear Editor:

The recent flurry of criminal activity in the Roaring Fork Valley has alerted us all to the realities of what bad things can happen when a community is not united behind a proactive plan for preventing delinquent behavior. It is vital to establish a collective community ethic, centered on preventative strategies that help us comprehensively identify areas of concern and responsibly facilitate positive change, before individuals become involved in dangerous criminal activity.

The YouthZone, working with at-risk youth and their families for more than 30 years, is now a nationally acclaimed youth-advocacy program serving Aspen to Parachute. Much of their efforts have been centered on assessing how young individuals are at risk, with reliable results and subsequent services aimed at rehabilitating dangerous and delinquent behavior by providing a variety of services designed to get our valley’s youth back on track. With a historically reliable 75 percent success rate measured by nonrepeat offenders, YouthZone has become a national model, though desperately under utilized locally in this age of rampant substance abuse, violence, vandalism, sexual risks and so-called gang influences.

It will become increasingly more important for our community’s parents, teachers, coaches, counselors and social service agencies to become united in our preventative approach to identifying potential red flags and proactively intervening before our young citizens become threats to themselves and the vitality of our valley’s peaceful lifestyle.

If you have a concern about a young person, contact YouthZone for more information on appropriate and effective intervention before our kids and teens become the subjects of more negative headlines. For more information on YouthZone programs, services and volunteer opportunities, call 945-9300 in Glenwood Springs or 920-5702 in Aspen.

Evan Zislis