Investing in kids’ safety | AspenTimes.com

Investing in kids’ safety

Dear Editor:

On behalf of more than 100 Carbondale and Glenwood Springs Middle School children who registered during the first week and the many who will register in the coming weeks, I would like to express the gratitude of the Access Roaring Fork Board of Directors to the Carbondale Town Council and the Garfield County Commissioners for their early and generous support of our regional Afterschool Program.

At a time when the recession is presenting significant and painful challenges to these elected officials, they were able to make the difficult decision to support a much needed program. Their decision was made with the outspoken support of community leaders who work hard each and every day for the well-being of the children in our valley. Our gratitude is extended to the Garfield County Sheriff’s Department, the police chiefs and officers of Glenwood Springs and Carbondale, Assistant District Attorney Tony Hershey, YouthZone’s Debbie Wilde, and the superintendent, principals, teachers and school board of RE-1.

“Fundamentally, we view these funds as an investment in the safety of our children and our community. Our belief is that if we provide kids with a structured, healthy alternative to the street or to TV that not only will their lives be better, but the entire community benefits by reduced activity in the police department and juvenile justice system. … We look at the After School Program as a way for the non-athlete, non-school club member to find an accepting, safe, creative outlet for their energies.” (Tom Baker, Carbondale town manager, on the unanimous trustee vote to grant $16,000 to the Access Roaring Fork Afterschool Program.)

“Kaufman, supported by a number of area law enforcement, education and social services representatives, argued that money spent on after-school activities for kids is money saved on the alternative – law enforcement and courts that deal with juvenile delinquency.” (Glenwood Post Independent on our recent presentation to the Garfield County Commissioners prior to their unanimous vote granting $25,310 to the Access Roaring Fork Afterschool Program.)

The data supporting the effectiveness of well-run after-school programs has been part of the public record for more than 20 years. Recent studies and informed opinions, like that of Glenwood Springs Police Chief Terry Wilson, continue to affirm past conclusions. “Juvenile crime is an ever-increasing concern in our community and the valley, with recent incidents of violent assaults and burglaries all perpetrated by children … hopefully you can all support this effort to provide a positive alternative for kids in a time of day that opens too many negative influences.”

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As we prepare to present our 2010 budget request to the local governments from Aspen to Glenwood Springs and to Eagle, Pitkin and Garfield Counties, we ask that our supporters continue in their efforts on behalf of the children of our region. For those interested in supporting this effort and learning more, please visit our website at accessrf.org or contact us at 963-5646 or arfork@gmail.com.

Steve Kaufman

Executive Director, Access Roaring Fork

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