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Griffith Center, YMCA give troubled youths a second chance

Tags: Empty Stocking Fund

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Chris (name changed for privacy reasons) has been in and out of the system in Colorado Springs since he was 13 years old. He is now about to turn 20. This past Thanksgiving and Christmas were the first times he has been able to spend both holidays with his family, thanks to the support of different agencies in Colorado Springs.

"I'm not young anymore," Chris said. "I have a lot more goals.

Chris was released by the state to the Griffith Center for Children, Chins Up on July 27 and he has lived there since. This is the second time he has spent time at the center and it has changed his life. He now works an off-site job as a cook. He said he wants to be successful this year, save money, and work on his independent life skills to be able to live on his own.

According to the Empty Stocking Fund website, the Griffith Center for Children, Chins Up strengthens communities in Colorado through "academic, therapeutic, and counseling programs to children, youth, and families."

Whitney Bell, program supervisor for the independent living home at the Griffith Center for Children, Chins up, where Chris lives has had her role for the past 15 years and works with the males ages 16 to 20. The children that end up at any of the Center's programs have come from either Youth Corrections or the Department of Human Services, Bell said.
"We teach them how to be independent," Bell said of her specific program. The group home helps the boys learn how to live on their own, budget, get jobs, save money and more.

The Griffith Center for Children, Chins Up additionally has a deep connection with the YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region to support youth activity.

"The YMCA has been great with us," Bell said. "We have a lot of different homes and trying to get our kids out to do things can be difficult." Bell explained that the YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region gives the center its own membership that can be shared with the different group homes. The center can then bring a group of children and a staff member and they are all able to use the weights, play basketball, get onto teams, and more. The YMCA helps get the children and teenagers back into the community, according to Bell.

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