Youth center completes 10 outreach projects – Canon City Daily Record

Since its inception in 2016, the Bridge Youth Center on Main Street has worked tirelessly to nurture and support young people in Cañon City. They provide a safe and vibrant environment for teens after school and offer a faith-centered mission to facilitate teen learning and skill development.

The Bridge Builders program, which aims to foster a sense of community, has had great results this year.

A total of 20 students from grades 7 to 10 brainstormed, designed and ultimately executed 10 community outreach projects. From baking treats for Cañon City’s first responders to a special hot chocolate day for Cañon City High School students and creating appreciation posters for the many middle school teachers, the community has felt the appreciation cumulative of adolescents in multiple ways.

The projects ran from November 2021 to January 2022 and were entirely youth-led with gentle supervision by dedicated Bridge staff.

Deputy Director Kileen Rogness had a particular involvement in the projects and, during her two years at the Bridge, found admiration for the young people’s dedication to the projects.

“It really comes from the heart to make students feel part of the larger community,” she said. “A lot of students come here and recognize that they belong here, so we just wanted to expand that so they see themselves as part of the community and grow their respect and stewardship for it.”

The bridge offers its unique services to 200 students per week, and staff regularly look forward to the implementation of community improvement programs like Bridge Builders. In a small community like Cañon City, the ability to break down barriers is seen as vital.

“Being a leader means serving the community rather than having power or authority,” Rogness said. “A lot of community members and at-risk youth see themselves at odds. It really benefits the community by teaching these students that they are partners in local businesses and with older members of the community that if they want to facilitate good relationships, they can take the first step.

The concept of the 10 projects was simple: “What are you passionate about? From there, the students were allowed to design their projects and exactly what they wanted to make life a little brighter.

Bridge staff are looking forward to extending their summer hours to provide more services to Cañon City youth and possibly more projects like those mentioned above.

Run entirely by local grants and donations, the bridge serves a wide range of students, and “registration” is incredibly simple. Students interested in participating in a variety of activities just need a parent to come to the Main Street location and present a student ID to prove their child’s age and level. From there, the fun begins.

“The kids in this community are awesome,” Rogness remarked. “They want to serve the community, they want to be a light to people in the community.”

The Bridge hopes to continue to facilitate ways to bring the community together – by any means necessary.

“We are thrilled to have leaders from different churches and different parts of the community as well as students from all walks of life who come to be part of our program,” Rogness said. “Our goal is not to have just one type of child coming to the bridge.”

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