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A Cure for Disconnection: A New Chapter in the Save Our Youth Story

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    Jasmine has spent her entire life in one of Denver’s most struggling neighborhoods, save for her trip in second grade to see family in Texas. Each room in her small apartment overflows with siblings, cousins, and even a few neighborhood kids whose own family’s don’t have a place for them. Yes, the front door is ever revolving, not to mention the comings and goings of her mother’s boyfriend. The two of them patch together something like a work week, bringing in money when and as they can. But, like the people, the dollars, too, flow into and out of the home all too quickly. Stability is elusive, and the demands of Jasmine’s half-brother with special needs make holding a job nearly impossible for their mom.
     Jasmine’s school changes names every few years, as the district imports the next trendy model of education to help struggling, under-resourced students for whom attending school often competes with daily survival. She herself had moved among a handful of schools around the city throughout middle school, hoping to find the answer in any traditional, alternative, or credit recovery program that would have her. Jasmine has no shortage of ambition, but people who can show her the way are few. 
 
    Travel just over twenty miles south, and you’ve entered a parallel reality. Spencer’s large house, home only to his mother and him, sits quietly on the thirteenth green of the neighborhood golf course. His school provides every class, technology, and club a student could imagine, and teachers readily avail themselves to kids looking to improve their college trajectories.
     Spencer’s parents divorced when he was just nine, and things have been ugly between the two ever since. Both have always worked long hours leading a growing IT company, and today Spencer rarely sees either amid this continuing trend. He does ok at his Douglas County school – though not quite up to mom and dad’s standard – but his teachers can tell he is not thriving. School counselors help some with the depression and anxiety, but hours of video games each night most effectively carry Spencer through his persistent sense of isolation. 
 
     Though their circumstances and environments could not be more disparate, Jasmine and Spencer are both “at-risk.” For one, environmental influences threaten her development and capacity to thrive, while the other struggles alone against the weight of his own emotional turmoil. Consistent disconnection from committed, interested adults plagues the wonder, exploration, and growth that should characterize this stage in life. 
     Our journey as an organization began with low-income families, people invested in their neighborhoods and rich in relationships despite their limited finances. Over the past three decades, and alongside citywide gentrification, we have expanded our programming into suburban communities to continue serving the marginalized of our booming metropolis.
​     Most recently, at the invitation of concerned residents, we began connecting kids in the Parker area with adult mentors. As Spencer’s story illustrates, kids here also struggle at alarming rates and in significant ways. They, too, crave connection with older voices of wisdom, mentors who will affirm their aptitudes, challenge their growth, and join their stories. Would you consider filling this role and becoming a mentor for a child in your community?

 

Become a Mentor Today!