This article and photo first appeared in the Vail Daily on February 8, 2020.
GYPSUM — Almost every day, one Eagle County organization or another is in fundraising mode.
But Mountain Recreation recently got a pleasant surprise when it requested funding from Eagle Valley Behavioral Health. The rec district got what it asked for, and then some.
Eagle Valley Behavioral Health, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Vail Health, recently offered 50% more than it was asked to support the 2020 Mountain Recreation Youth Scholarship Program.
“Why? Because both organizations subscribe to the philosophy that every child deserves to play, learn and grow alongside their peers, regardless of their ability to pay,” said Scott Robinson, Mountain Recreation’s marketing and communications manager.
The newly-coined Eagle Valley Behavioral Health Youth Scholarship, administered by Mountain Recreation, now has $50,000 in funding for families who qualify for Eagle County Schools Free and Reduced Lunch Program. This represents a $30,000 increase over last year’s funding, thanks to the generous grant awarded by the board of directors for Eagle Valley Behavioral Health.
“There is more to this youth scholarship program than giving our youth a safe place to play all while instilling positive life-long values,” Robinson said. “It’s about providing opportunities to solve a problem before it ever becomes one.”
“Developing and maintaining social connections and engaging in physical activity are among the top prevention measures our community can take to reduce behavioral and mental health issues,” said Chris Lindley, the executive director of Eagle Valley Behavioral Health. “This grant will continue our progress towards preventing and combating mental health issues among our local youth.”
Families who are awarded scholarships can use the funding on an array of Mountain Recreation programs including gymnastics and swimming lessons, Rec Kids day camps (childcare for working parents when school is out), karate, ballet, yoga, youth sports leagues, learn to ice skate programs, summer sports camps and explorer summer camps.
“Two years ago, we revamped our scholarship program and within weeks the $20,000 our board allocated was distributed to families in need, leaving just as many kids on the waitlist as had already received funding,” said Mountain Recreation Executive Director Janet Bartnik. “We made it a goal in 2019 to find a partner for 2020 to help us ensure those kids didn’t have to wait anymore. Thanks to the generosity of EVBH, they won’t.”
Along with the applications, guardians need to provide a copy of their Free and Reduced Lunch approval letter from Eagle County Schools. This letter can be accessed through a School Café account. Parents with children who are not enrolled in Eagle County Schools can still apply by bringing a copy of their previous year’s tax returns. If their income meets the Free and Reduced lunch criteria, they will become eligible for funds.