LPYS 2022-2023 Annual Report
9th Annual Unchain My Heart-That's a Wrap!
Tackling Youth Homelessness in Durango
Let's Talk About Cyberbullying
New Video About Restorative Justice at LPYS
This September, we welcomed four new LPYS community board members to help us lead the way for the organization in fundraising, community events, outreach, and advocacy. In an effort to better represent the youth we serve, we recruited three young members to the board this year. Our youth members live in different communities throughout La Plata County and bring prior advocacy work they have done within their local community. Please join us in extending a warm welcome to our new board members and enjoy meeting them virtually!Meet Mia Sholes
My name is Mia Sholes and I am a 9th grader at Durango High School. As a community youth, I participate actively on the swim team and attend many local events supporting various causes. I decided to serve on the La Plata Youth Services Board of Directors to bring awareness to the community that LPYS is not only the heart of the youth in our community, but also provides a tool kit to build youth's goals and future. I have learned to navigate between living in two families, my father's, as well as the bilingual home of my mother, with my brother and stepdad. As a student learning a different language, I understand the difficulties faced by youth with language barriers.
In the near future, I hope to contribute to the world in the medical field and continue to support local nonprofits. I believe my greatest strength is my love of working with others. My main goal in life is to help others to the best of my ability knowing there is enough room in this world to help and support each other.Meet Willow Lott
My name is Willow Lott and I am a student at Durango High School and a co-founder of Wild Durango. Durango is known for its immense access to the outdoors, and professional athletes like Howard Grotts, Laura Thewart, and the Barnes twins. It seems even compared to other outdoorsy towns, Durangotangs have a unique determination to break barriers in their fields. I believe the success of our youth is the direct result of our impactful youth programming, supportive communities, and development teams in our area that foster virtues relevant not only to athletic success but academic and professional proficiency as well. Confidence, self-reliance, determination, and bravery are just a few characteristics promoted in these programs, which are often run without the ability to reach challenged youth, youth on free and reduced lunch, or youth experiencing instability at home. The failure of our community to include the most vulnerable populations in our local culture has created a rift in our schools and continues to push these kids into dangerous, unhealthy, or trauma-inducing situations rather than offering sanctuary. I co-founded Wild Durango, an inter-generational community of female-identifying participants who aim to encourage stewardship and social change through shared pursuits in the outdoors. We work to provide education about implicit bias, advocacy for women's interests, community service, and intergenerational mentorship. My experience leading this club has taught me how to be an effective leader and organizer, and to embrace intersectionality when addressing social issues. Through my organization, I have worked with non-binary and trans people to develop inclusive rhetoric at a Reproductive Rights Rally I organized, and have traveled to the Navajo Nation to build bike trails while learning about unequal access native people face on the reservation. I have also coached for DEVO for 5 years and founded an outdoor skills summer camp called "camp on Crestview" in my neighborhood. During covid, I started an outdoor tutoring program to pair high school tutors with youth and was a ski instructor at Purgatory. These experiences lend me valuable insight when it comes to both inclusivity and equity within outdoor fields, but I still struggle to reach the populations who need these services most.
My unique point of view as a young person, who can speak on the interests of my generation from daily experience allows me to effectively lead youth. I use my platform to empower local youth in the development of healthy life skills and character development through positive mentorship. I am also learning how restorative practices can achieve a more equitable community and working to offer opportunities for our county's marginalized youth- especially through pursuits in the outdoors. My goal is to work to empower as many kids as possible in the outdoors. I still have a lot to learn, but I am very dedicated to social justice, and can't wait to begin this journey with La Plata Youth Services.Meet Willow Schulz
My name is Willow Schulz and I am a Junior at Ignacio High School. I enjoy helping people and serving my community and always strive to learn new perspectives and ideas. I have worked as a coach, certified facilitator, and youth mentor along with my interest in Restorative Justice and my work with Rise Above Colorado Teen Action Council, made joining LPYS a natural fit. I'm excited to work with the Board to enact positive change in our community.
I am Kim Osby, a new La Plata Youth Services Board member and have been a Durango native since 1973. I have been blessed to help raise our family here in Durango. I am currently a counselor at Escalante Middle School and was a counselor at Park Elementary prior to this position. I have a long history of working with at-risk youth even before my work within public schools. I believe that La Plata Youth Services is an essential resource for our youth, families, schools, and communities and I look forward to my work with this organization!
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