The Resilience1220 office in Bergen Park was filled with talking, laughing and eating — both inside and outside — as about 30 teens spent a Sunday evening having fun.
Inside was plenty of pizza, foosball, games and the Super Bowl playing in the background. Outside was a friendly but competitive game of laser tag. Participants from Clear Creek County, Evergreen and Conifer got to make new friends and meet old friends.
Resilience1220 provides free counseling to 12- to 20-year-olds, plus speakers on mental health topics and group sessions. Resilience1220 founder Heather Aberg said group sessions were important for kids and adults alike.
“A therapist can tell you things, but the loneliness of parenting or being a teenager is lessened when someone sits across from you and says, ‘I struggle to get up every day.’ (Groups) help both of those kids,” she explained. “Each gets validated because both are struggling with the same issues.”
But Sunday night wasn’t a night for therapy.
“It’s COVID safe and an opportunity for kids to get out and have fun,” Aberg noted.
Parent Lane Dolan agreed, calling the evening a great combination of getting outdoors for laser tag and of mental health for the kids to be together just to make friends, something that’s hard to do in the foothills where there aren’t many places to gather.
Dolan’s daughter, Ivy, who attends Clear Creek Middle School, decided to play laser tag, tromping through the snow in the dark in Buchanan Park with several other players. They played capture the flag, using laser tag guns provided by the Evergreen Library.
The teens playing tag said they were having a lot of fun, with some more experienced at the game than others.
Ben Shay, the youth programs coordinator with Mountain Youth Network and TREK Outdoors in Clear Creek County, oversaw the laser tag game, joining in the fun.
Chloe Alspaugh with Mountain Youth Network called the gathering a great way for Clear Creek and Jeffco teens to meet each other, expanding their network of friends.
“This is really just getting kids out to meet new people,” she said.
Oliver Harmon from Clear Creek dressed completely in black to try to elude the other team, saying he liked laser tag competition.
Isaac Arnold, an Evergreen High School student, and his brother, Asher, who attends Evergreen Middle School, said they came because they enjoyed laser tag.
Aberg gave an overview of the night’s events before the festivities began, telling the teens that Resilience1220 was there so they can express themselves.
“It’s rough being your age, and there’s a lot going on in the world,” she said. “It’s important that you have a place to talk.”