Tehrani: Youth Center gave me so much

Aspen Youth Center is labeled as a place for children to connect with others, learn new things and grow alongside each other. But, as I sit here and reflect on my years as a child at AYC versus a staff member, I’ve learned that there is so much beyond that. 

I began attending AYC in 2013, the summer before my fourth-grade year. I remember walking in and being mesmerized by all of these games I’d never even heard of before, like air hockey and bumper pool. As I became more and more comfortable in that environment, I began to make friends that were much older than me and showed me the ropes both in and out of AYC. 

I have made some of my best friends through growing up with other kids at AYC, but also with the staff. The welcoming atmosphere of the staff is what keeps the kids coming back. I learned the importance of being that safe space that some kids might not have anywhere else, and how having someone older that they can confide in and trust can be life-changing for them.

Now that I’ve left Aspen and am off to college across the country, I realize what a gift it was to be able to have grown up with somewhere like AYC. The skills that are taught to everyone there, kids or staff, are things that are carried with you for the rest of your life. Not only do they teach you things like cooking, art and different outdoor activities, but also to treat others with kindness and respect everyone around you no matter their age or relationship with you.

I hope that one day I can give back to AYC as much as they have done for me and everyone else involved with them.

Kayla Tehrani