By Jamie Folsom
David Lawson has been in youth recreation for several years, and his latest challenge is to continue to build programs for the Berthoud community. Lawson is the youth pastor for Grace Place, and this fall Five Stones Youth Center has quietly been building momentum for their afterschool opportunities.
“It’s a place for kids to come hang out and do a variety of things – homework, get tutoring or play video games.” Lawson said of the afterschool program. The center is open Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 to 5 p.m., and Wednesdays from 1 to 5 p.m. They have pool tables, a computer lab, a concession stand, foosball, video games, music and videos. They are also hoping to build a skate park in the back. But Lawson believes it’s more about providing an atmosphere where kids can feel good.
“We realize some kids we meet often have a rough home life, and we try to make this a place that’s safe and good for everyone.” Lawson said. “And, everything is free, outside of buying a drink or snack or a t-shirt.”
Fellow Five Stones staffer Shari Nixon says the program gives kids “ a place to go out and be doing things they should be doing, and not doing things they shouldn’t,” noting that everyone is expected to respect the facilities and one another. Nixon, who is a licensed teacher, says their goal is to “keep [kids] focused on positive things, so there is no negative impact to the community.”
In fact, she says, “They can have a positive impact if anything and do outreach in the community.”
This fall, the Center is organizing several opportunities for youth to get involved in the community. They are currently collecting canned and non-perishable goods for the Berthoud food pantry, and they are gearing up for Christmas with “shoe box” gifts for those in need locally. They will be decorating and filling shoe boxes with items that they’ll pass out to local youth group homes and pediatric centers at the hospitals.
The Center also hosts a once-a-month Wilderness Adventures group that goes camping, hunting and other outdoor activities.
While many of the Five Stones programs have a Christian focus, the afterschool program is for the general community, and is not tied to any religious activity. The program is free and open to any middle or high school-age youth in the Berthoud area.
For more information on the Five Stones Youth Center afterschool program, call either staffer at (970) 532-9886.