Eagle River Youth Coalition is now Mountain Youth | VailDaily.com

Eagle River Youth Coalition is now Mountain Youth

Eagle County organization grows up, promises a voice for valley youth for years to come

By Heather Hower
Special to the Daily
The staff of the rebranded Mountain Youth.
Special to the Daily

Just as a child matures and develops into adulthood, Mountain Youth, formerly Eagle River Youth Coalition, has grown, changed and matured. Mountain Youth is an organization that provides a voice for youth in our community and answers for parents and caregivers. It’s focused on creating a better Eagle County for all, one where all youth thrive. 

Over the course of the past year, the board and staff have worked to refine the mission, vision and values of this 18-year-old organization.

“We are so excited about our new name. We will continue to be a collaborative organization that nimbly responds to community requests and needs, but the name ‘Mountain Youth’ embodies more of who we are today,” said Michelle Stecher, executive director. “Mountain Youth has a wide reach, and a vision, a mission and core values committed to keeping young people a community priority … our mission is to continuously and collaboratively improve the lives of youth in the most powerful ways possible.”

Mountain Youth studied our community, asked stakeholders, past members, young people and other collaborators to get a clear view as to how the organization is perceived. What did we learn?

Mountain Youth impacts young people, as well as parents, teachers, caregivers, policy and decision-makers. We are committed to listening to the needs of the community and responding with programs that educate, enhance and encourage strong relationships and positive decision making. How do we do this? Through carefully defined strategies. Every member of our staff takes these strategies to heart to provide the answers and guide our way.

The underlying values include trusted leadership, inclusivity, bridging community and positive youth development … all rooted in giving youth a voice and a place to be at home.

Now, more than ever, Mountain Youth wants all young people to know they are valued. Through our programs, including substance use prevention, safe driving education, youth advocacy and parent education, Mountain Youth is a resource for the entire community.

What we do

Mountain Youth listens to the needs of the community and responds with programs that educate, enhance and encourage strong relationships and positive decision making.

The updated youth-led, adult-supported program Valley’s Voice is a new iteration of Youth Leaders Council, so youth can be the catalyst for change they want to see. This group will work closely with Communities That Care for projects that impact everyone.

Eat Chat Parent continues to be an award-winning parenting program with nationally renowned speakers who guide trusted adults to talk about tough topics and to know they are not in the quagmire of raising children alone.

Through the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, we get a pulse on the behavior of middle school and high school students. The data derived from the biennial survey steers our course of action; it helps the community know what young people want to know, how they feel and how we can help. Utilizing survey results, the community receives $2 million in grant funding and young people create positive messages to share with their peers.

Life Skills for Students provides timely, accurate information to young people in school, starting in fifth grade and continuing through 12th grade. More than a thousand students participate in these programs that help them navigate the world of adolescence.

Finally, the safe driving program does just that: encourage sober, alert driving through a variety of lessons and sober events. Partnering with 17 gyms in the valley, those in recovery are encouraged to join NamaStay Sober. We’ve even worked with event promoters to create safe driving options — at the Bonfire Block Party more than 900 people got home safely thanks to this program.

Mountain Youth’s work ensures our youth remain a priority. We are striving to be a community where young people have the skills that support healthy bodies and minds and improved decision-making with leadership skills to guide their lives. We give youth a voice in our community.

History

Mountain Youth was founded in 2001 as the Eagle River Youth Coalition. It was designed as a collaborative vision of Leadership Vail Valley, the Eagle CARES Survey team and Eagle County to provide cohesion among youth service providers. Mountain Youth was tasked with building Positive Youth Development, a strengths-based approach to adolescence, throughout the Eagle River Valley.

Mountain Youth was charged with overseeing data assessment to ensure the community had an honest measure of youth behaviors and perceptions and a way to analyze effectiveness and gaps in youth services. These outcomes continue to drive Mountain Youth in collaborative planning of youth services. We work with service providers, so the community can effectively assess and meet the changing needs of youth, ultimately mobilizing the community for positive change.

Fast facts

Since we started tracking n 2007, our influence has reached:

  • 4,885 students served during in-school programs
  • 446 students participate in Youth Leaders Council
  • 3,592 parent education attendees
  • 2,205 participated in alternative events
  • $17 million-plus raised from grants using Healthy Kids Colorado Survey data

Mountain Youth works to make the community we live in a healthier, more vibrant place for youth and families. We are stronger together. Learn more at http://www.mountainyouth.org.