Complete with a bathroom, new Magic Bus debuts at YouthPower365’s Party in the Park | VailDaily.com

Complete with a bathroom, new Magic Bus debuts at YouthPower365’s Party in the Park

YouthPower365 celebrated in Eagle County on Saturday, May 12, with a first-ever Party in the Park event.

The Party in the Park wrapped up the school year for YouthPower365, while also kicking off the local nonprofit's summer programs.

The Vail Valley Foundation's YouthPower365, formerly known as the Youth Foundation, is dedicated to operating a "cradle-to-career pipeline focused on overcoming the opportunity gap faced by many of our youth and families," according to the organization.

FREE BIKES

That opportunity gap can be exemplified in something as simple as a bicycle — owning one is an inevitability for many kids, but nearly impossible for others.

Gianluca Olivera was treated to his very own bicycle on Saturday as part of the Party in the Park; the 7-year-old also received a helmet as part of the local "If you have a brain, wear a helmet" initiative, supported by the town of Avon and Vail Resorts and Colorado-based nonprofit Wish for Wheels.

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Kaprice Armstrong, 5, of Gypsum, also received a helmet at the event.

"She's to the age now where we needed to get her a helmet," said Kaprice's mother, Brianna Armstrong. "That definitely made it worth attending. Plus her helmet matches her face paint."

Kaprice attended with her grandfather, Tim Baca, who said he was disappointed that their family arrived too late for the free barbecue from Moe's Original Bar B Que at the Party for the Park.

"Next year we'll know to get here early," he said with a laugh.

The free lunch, and how quickly it ran out, was evidence of how successful the event was, said organizer Melisa Rewold-Thuon.

Less than 2 hours into the event, "we had already served 460 lunches," Rewold-Thuon said.

MAGIC BUS

The event also marked the upvalley debut of YouthPower365's new Magic Bus, which provides a traveling preschool for Eagle County kids ages 3-5.

The Magic Bus is not a new concept for YouthPower365, as a school-on-wheels has long been a staple of the nonprofit's programming. The new rig, however, is equipped with a bathroom, which has been a game changer of sorts for the operation.

"Not having a rest room prevented us from going to some of areas where we were needed most, because they didn't have bathrooms," said Magic Bus manager Deb Dutmer. "Since January, we've been going full steam with the new bus, and we saw some areas fill up instantly."

The bus is intended to ready kids for kindergarten, providing a preschool setting for kids who have never experienced preschool or day care.

"It prepares them socially and emotionally for kinder," Dutmer said. "We learn phonics, counting, how to write our names, and other basics like colors, shapes and patterns. But the most important thing we teach is how to share, how to listen to a teacher, how to separate from Mom, how to listen to a book being read. It's getting kids ready to learn, so they start kinder and know what to do."

Learn more about YouthPower365 by visiting youth power365.org.