The Glenwood Springs Community Center is seeking more marijuana tax funding to maintain the facility as a “third space” for underserved or at-risk youth.
If a young person’s first place is their home and their second place is their school, the Parks and Recreation Community Center wants to become a third place for teens and tweens.
“I think the support groups are the most important and that’s really where this program started,” said Brian Smith, director of parks and recreation. “It’s ‘How can we help young people at risk, those teenagers (who) are interested in mental health issues, academic support, navigating through social experiences and identity, relationships between friends ‘ – all those sorts of things.”
Third spaces are community “anchors,” where community members gather and socialize, establishing shared stewardship, according to a report presented to city council Sept. 15.
“This program serves grades six through ten,” he said. “We have issued 532 passes so far this year, and Grade 10 students have had the most passes issued; but, from that breakdown, it’s pretty even across the board.
The community center has seen 2,355 visits from young people so far this year, and eighth graders are the biggest users of those passes, he said.
Glenwood Springs Parks and Recreation received approximately $25,000 in Valley Marijuana Council Funds for Youth Prevention Programs to fund Glenwood Springs Youth Passes and support programs For the young. The program has proven to be a success and now the department wants to continue and expand the program and the funding.
Passes are not active during class hours and this limitation is primarily based on funding. In 2022, Parks and Recreation spent about $21,000 of that $25,000, and Smith said he saw a 20% increase in passes issued year over year.
He said he was now asking for an overall increase of $75,000 to expand the program and activities.
Passes seem to be most successful on weekdays, with Wednesday being the busiest.
“I hope they’re with their family or doing something else, but, you know, on those kind of worrying weekdays, parents are at work, they have a place to go,” Smith said. .
Smith said they plan to issue about 680 passes next year. Pass sales have exceeded the recreation center’s forecast for this year, which he says is due to people feeling more comfortable being in public spaces after the pandemic.
“We don’t want it to explode and all the kids in the community to catch one because it wouldn’t be sustainable for us,” Smith said. “But, we want to, you know, if it benefits the kids, most of the kids that are aware of that and caring for that are kids (who) need child care, they need a place where go.”
Although demographics and surveys are not taken, counselors work with students to try to target young people who will benefit the most.
Local data according to Park and Recreation report:
• Approximately 1,100 students in grades 9 through 12 attend school in Glenwood Springs.
• Alcohol, marijuana and drug use is above state averages. 1/3 of students regularly use alcohol, 22% regularly use marijuana, and 17% use other types of drugs, with non-prescription prescription drug use being the most common.
• More than 1 in 4 students is depressed and 14% have thought about suicide.
• Only 47% of young people in our region have hope for their future.
• Only 49% say they have a mentor.
• 68% have participated in an extracurricular activity at school and do not have solid data on engagement outside of school time.
• In several youth surveys, almost all youth asked for free access to the recreation centre, free bus passes and access to the library after hours.