The kid comes home at the end of the school day and moans: ”There’s nothing to do in this town.”
The refrain is often sung by parents and by other residents in the community.
And, it is wrong.
If anything, there are too many activities for local kids to indulge during the school year. There are school-related clubs and activities and, from seventh grade on, there are school sport programs that occupy the time of any who are interested. Local schools also offer a number of other extracurricular activities as well — theatre, the arts, etc.
Then there are the programs sponsored by the town recreation department — sports, indoor and out, depending on season, nearly year round.
Several churches sponsor youth programs and events.
The Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have provided great opportunities for local youngsters over the years and are currently going strong.
The Skaters Coalition for Concrete, in conjunction with the town and local doners, is moving toward construction of a new skate park at a site behind the post office.
Numerous music teachers provide valuable training for youngsters interested in vocal and instrumental music, and many of the kids participate in community theater. The Music Boosters have long featured youngsters in productions and many will be a part of the upcoming 20th anniversary show.
Our local 4-H program involves youngsters in productive and creative activities.
And, now, with the creation of the Pagosa Youth Center, youngsters will have even more opportunities — with a space and programs tailored to them. When fully operational, the center will fill many of the gaps that occur during school vacation periods as well as offer educational and social opportunities to youngsters throughout the year.
Our Focus feature this week deals with the new center and with plans attendant to its official opening near the first of the year. The effort being made for our kids is impressive and flies in the face of a negative reaction on the part of many toward Pagosa’s young people.
There is a sizable community of individuals out there who simply don’t care about kids. There are, in fact, a number of adults out there who don’t like kids. And, thus, we hear comments like, “Why should I donate for other people’s kids? Why should I have to pay more taxes for education?”
Their choice. Unfortunately, the lack of concern can have disastrous ramifications.
In response, we ask: Who do you think is going to care for you in the nursing home? Who is going to provide the support services you will need later in life — emergency medical, fire, police, social and otherwise? Who is going to pay to see that your Social Security and Medicare coverage continues?
The need for collective attention and funding through government, and for community support of youth programs, is pressing.
How are our young people going to fare as adults when school districts face budget cuts that go unanswered by a caring public? What kind of shape are they going to be in when schools, such as our own, have only enough money to provide basic education — never enough to create advanced programs and honors classes in all relevant subjects?
Thankfully, there are many Pagosans who look out for the kids in whatever ways they can. For our part, we will continue to condemn those adults who abandon the best interests of our young people; we will condemn those whose parsimony would consign our young people to second-class status in a world economy in which maximum education and creativity are requisite for success. And we will continue to laud and support those who work to create educational and recreational opportunities for our youngsters in order to develop young minds and bodies in a positive and productive environment.