|Fourteeners for Teens is a Full Circle of Lake County fundraising event to connect Leadville residents and visitors to the youth of Leadville needing healthy and exciting activities outside of school. The kick-off to this initiative will be an expedition to ski all of the 14ers in the Sawatch Range of Colorado in 14 days in 2014! See our 14ers Expedition page for more about this project!
Why Leadville Youth?There are challenges to growing up in any town, with some additional hurdles faced by a Leadville youth, like “Cesar.” Cesar lives in the Mountain View mobile home park at the base of Mt. Massive and Mt. Elbert, the two highest peaks in Colorado.
Me: “Cesar, have you ever been up there?”
Cesar: “You trippin’! I could never make it up there.”
Like more than half of Leadville workers, his mom commutes to the resort town Breckenridge or Vail two hours each day to work in a fast food restaurant. Cesar needs to help his siblings get ready for school, and often cares for them after school as well until his mom gets home.
Cesar and his siblings speak English that they learned at school. He often translates for his mom, and the family speaks Spanish at home. (26% of Leadville’s total population is Hispanic, 65% of Leadville’s student population are Hispanic). Cesar’s mom doesn’t have much time to help with homework or to get him involved in extra-curricular activities by the time she gets home from work, and since she doesn’t speak English and didn’t graduate from high school, she can’t help him that much with school work.
Cesar wakes up and sees the high mountains above him every day, but has never thought about climbing them. Until, that is, he got involved with Full Circle in 7th grade. With Full Circle he tried hiking (and thinks it’s really hard work, since he’s a bit overweight), rock climbing (he’ll give it a shot, but prefers belaying for the other kids), and then discovered downhill skiing. He loved it from the start, and keeps asking when we’re going again. He comes to other activities, in part to make sure his attendance is high enough to keep getting invited to ski.
Since learning how to ski, Cesar has also come on an overnight backpacking trip, done many hours of community service (his favorite is to spend time with the elderly residents at the Extended Care Unit), and is excited to join us for our four-day 8th grade boys trip to camp in the desert and rappel down a canyon in Moab, UT this May.
Since his involvement in Full Circle, we’ve seen Cesar go from being the kid in the principal’s office regularly in 7th grade, to not getting in trouble all year in 8th grade so far. He wants to be a rapper (or construction worker) and says he plans to “follow his dreams.”
This September, Cesar and 10 other Full Circle members woke up at 5am to hike to the 14,439’ summit of Mt. Elbert. There were hundred-mile views of the Rocky Mountains and dozens of other hikers figuring out the names of the other peaks – and there were 11 kids picking out which neighborhood or trailer was theirs.