Vail Daily column: Youth leader displays empathy and friendliness | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Youth leader displays empathy and friendliness

Jason Peck
Youth Leader Spotlight

It is much easier to fake a smile and offer a weak helping hand than to truly invest your time and energy into others. Most of the youth in our valley wake up each morning with genuine intentions of doing the right thing and abiding by a code of kindness and respect. And the majority of these teens do this because it feels good, rather than having something to report on college application forms. Jayce Beard, a senior at Eagle Valley High School is one of those special teenagers who treats others with compassion, love and sincerity.

Beard should be admired for her tenacity and stamina. This is not a reference to her athletic abilities (which are noteworthy), but the multitude of extracurricular activities, clubs and student leadership groups that she serves. She moves throughout her day in a confident, cheerful manner while putting other's needs before her own. She is member of the National Honor Society and has maintained a 3.75 GPA or higher during her high school years. She is a student leader for Eagle Valley High School's Devils Against Destructive Decisions club, where she was on the planning committee for this past April's fourth annual anti-drug and alcohol party, Don't Get Tied Up With Drugs. The purpose of this party is to encourage Eagle County youth to make healthy, substance-free choices, while enjoying activities at the Edwards WECMRD Recreation Center. Beard was also selected by the state of Colorado to serve on the Teen Advisory Council for the Rise Above Organization. Rise Above is a non-profit organization comprised of high school students whose mission is to educate others on the dangers of methamphetamine and prescription drug abuse. Athletically, she is a member of EVHS's varsity track & field team and has competed on the basketball team. Not surprisingly, she has academically lettered for three consecutive years and is pursuing her associate of science degree from Colorado Mountain College. Quite impressive!

Beard plays a crucial role in Eagle River Youth Coalition's Youth Leadership Council. These hand-selected students represent the local high schools and advise police authorities, principals, school counselors and small businesses on community-wide youth concerns. Through a collective voice, the YLC members offer strategies to make our valley a healthier and more inclusive environment for teens. She responds to this selfless work by stating, "It is important to give back to our community because it enhances our quality of life and everybody benefits from a reciprocating community." As a member of EVHS's Link Crew, she embraces this feeling of inclusivity by welcoming all incoming freshman students and making them feel supported.

We are quite fortunate to have Beard as a student leader in our community. Her endless smile, unwavering friendship and empathy towards others should be mirrored by her peers. There is a lot of goodness in this budding young woman.

Jason Peck is the program director at the Eagle River Youth Coalition, a local nonprofit organization that offers and supports collaborative prevention programs. The Youth Leaders Council is a program of the Eagle River Youth Coalition. In addition to Youth Leaders Council, Eagle River Youth Coalition offers various levels of parenting education and trainings for community members. For more information, call 970-949-9250 or visit http://www.eagleyouth.org.