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Another Wood River Valley youth who has taken charge of his dreams is Yancy Caldwell. Now 18 years old, Yancy started working on the Guy Coles Skate Park when he was 11 years old and barely strong enough to carry a two-by-four.
“I wanted a skate park and figured if I wanted one, I’d have to do it,” he shrugs.
With several other skateboarders, he assisted Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation snowboard team coach Andy Gilbert and Board Bin manager Dave Kelso in constructing wooden ramps and curls at the park, which is located at the corner of Saddle Road and Warm Springs Road in Ketchum. This summer, the park will feature permanent concrete terrain.
“It’s really cool that it has evolved into a concrete park just from a bunch of kids working on it,” says Yancy.
Coach Gilbert adds, “There were a ton of kids involved in those early days. They really can make a difference. The power of kids should never be diminished or underestimated.”
In Ketchum, and later at the Hailey Skate Park, adults encouraged teens to take leadership responsibilities, keeping the parks clear of rubbish and safe for all users, no matter their age. Ted Elgee, A.J. Schafer, Stef Carter, and Stu Byerly are at the Hailey park on a regular basis as soon as the snow disappears. All the skaters take great pride in knowing that the skate park is so successful because of the commitment and involvement of young people. The Hailey park is ranked as one of the best of its kind in the nation.
Ten-year-old Dalyah Rose Hughes, a fourth-grader at Hailey Elementary School, stepped without hesitation into the world of professional jewelry design. Capitalized with a $50 gift from her grandmother, Dalyah invested it all in a buying trip to a major jewelry show in September, 2003. When she launched her first line at the Hemingway Elementary School Holiday Craft Bazaar that December, she sold out of nearly everything.
Now exhibited at her parents’ Hughes Jewel Gallery, Daly Rose Jewels is one of the best-selling lines in the shop. Her first exhibition will open in June, 2004 to coincide with the popular art gallery walk, and to highlight Daly’s expansion into the more technical aspects of creating earrings that coordinate with her necklaces and bracelets. Eventually, young Daly hopes to learn the art of the goldsmith from her father, Vint Hughes.
A formidable powerhouse of kids has recently opened a hard-earned gathering place. The Wood River Valley Youth Center Hub provides a mid-Valley location for kids to enjoy art classes, create stage productions, try their skills at karaoke, play pool, or just hang out together. The location in the Community Campus—the old Wood River High School building—places the Hub next to an open gym and the Blaine County Aquatic Center.
More than 50 active juvenile members of the Blaine County Teen Advisory Council, supported by adults in the Blaine County Youth Partnership, form Youth Adult Konnection, or YAK!. Together with the Blaine County Recreation District, YAK! celebrated the opening of the Hub earlier this year after nearly four years of research and hard work.
“The kids were the driving force behind this whole project,” explains YAK! director Angenie McCleary. “They conducted surveys to substantiate the need for the Hub, they conducted interviews in the hiring process of the architecture and building teams, and they were the main source of information in the overall planning process. They were phenomenal, and worked very, very hard to see this dream come true.”
The Wood River Valley regularly produces world-class athletes, Ivy League scholars, successful entrepreneurs, and thinkers who live outside the box. While every community has difficult issues to resolve, and the WRV is not immune, the future of any area is heavily influenced by the quality of its youths’ dreams. It seems that we are in very good hands.
Sue Bailey gleans a little help from everyone who crosses her path, whether they know it or not.