Chuck’s most excellent Grassroots adventure | AspenTimes.com
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Chuck’s most excellent Grassroots adventure

May Eynon

Aspen Grassroots Experience’s (AGE) programs for “at-risk” youth are designed to affect positive changes for participants from inner cities around the country as well as the Roaring Fork Valley.By bringing youth from their home environments to participate in outdoor experiential programs staged from Aspen to Moab, AGE helps them to look beyond the limitations they may feel on a day-to-day basis. Guiding them through challenging outdoor activities reveals their strengths and capabilities. These new experiences form the groundwork for facilitated rap sessions where youth share the struggles and traumas they are faced with at home, build a connection to the successes they experience during the program activities, and set ambitious-yet-realistic goals for their future.

Follow-up sessions, delivered in their hometowns, help participants maintain the skills they learn in Colorado.Many show up here having never expected to finish high school, yet a majority of Aspen Grassroots Experience alumni now attend colleges across the country. Some also work with other youth as part of the AGE outdoor programs or with agencies in their communities. Chuck Henderson is a shining example of an Aspen Grassroots Experience participant. Henderson is currently a senior in high school in Omaha, where he lives with his parents and four siblings.He initially learned about Aspen Grassroots Experience through Pacesetters Academy, an after-school programs. He has since participated in numerous programs in the winter and summer, and attended a follow-up session in New York.

Henderson attributes much of his success to his formative experiences with AGE. “I take every bit of love and knowledge from each Grassroots program back home with me and immediately put them into action,” he explained”I know I need to make myself happy. I refuse to wait around for some magical fairy to make everything better. I take all of the focus and communication techniques I’ve learned from Grassroots and use them in everyday life.”Recently, Henderson learned he was accepted to Creighton University in Omaha where he plans to study pharmacology.

“I’m 18 now – in five years I see myself in pharmacy school and coming back to Grassroots as a group leader. I also see myself getting some experience in my career doing hands-on work.”Changes in my life have been made. They didn’t happen overnight but they have happened,” he continued. “And now I give and get more hugs, acknowledgments, and even more people saying the words, ‘I Love You.'”Aspen Grassroots Experience conducts outdoor youth programs and ongoing follow-up activities throughout the year. To learn more log on at http://www.agae.org or call 925-6671.


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