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Grassroots hosts its ninth winter group

Tim Mutrie

A Grassroots Aspen Experience, Inc. will host its ninth annual winter program for young adults from across the country next week.

The weeklong program is designed to build self-esteem and facilitate positive behavior among the young adults, who hail from 13 different major cities, as well as the Roaring Fork Valley.

Beginning Monday, 86 youths will have opportunities to go skiing – both nordic and alpine, snowboard, dine at local restaurants, and participate in “rap sessions” with counselors, designed to help the young people reckon with the challenges they face.

“The hook is the skiing,” said John Reid, executive director of A Grassroots Aspen Experience, Inc. “But the meat of the program are the discussion sessions which take place in the evening.

“It’s more than a vacation – I wouldn’t be doing it if it weren’t,” Reid said. “It’s an opportunity for the kids to address the issues that they’re facing back home, so they stay in school and succeed in life.”

Each evening, following a typically action-packed day, the young people will spend four or five hours in discussions with peers and counselors, Reid said.

“The primary purpose is to build self-esteem,” Reid explained. “A lot of the kids that we work with come from low-income neighborhoods and come from single-parent homes. We target kids that the Aspen experience can make a difference for, and this is the ninth winter that we’ve provided self-esteem building programs and outdoor recreation in the Rocky Mountains for city kids.

Plenty of the support the youngsters receive comes from the local volunteers who will teach them snowboarding and skiing, according to Reid.

“They [volunteers] literally pick them up, and sometimes it’s the first time they’ve experienced that before, and so when we get deep into the issues, the kids will tend to open up a little bit, because a trust has been established.”

The program wouldn’t be possible without the support and help of the community, Reid said.

“To me, it’s a perfect illustration of how giving and supportive this community is,” Reid said. “It’s the fabric that holds Aspen together.”


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