Creating a Strong Youth Voice

Posted on May 31, 2018

More than a Student Athlete

Wyatt Nelson might be best known for his athletic feats, yet this accomplished student athlete crossed my path through his selfless community engagement. Wyatt is finishing up his junior year at Battle Mountain High School, and just recently landed a fifth place ranking in the state for pole vaulting. Wyatt credits much of his athletic progression to the strong influence of older student athletes. “I saw how accomplished my older peers were both academically and athletically, and it made me strive to push myself harder,” Wyatt explains.

From a broader perspective, we know that youth engagement in pro-social opportunities, such as sports and volunteerism, offer young people a huge boost. These assets help build character and resilience, and Wyatt has no hesitation paralleling the competitive spirit he has on the field to pushing him to achieve success in other realms of his life.


Recently, the local Communities That Care (CTC) initiative, a state-funded process led by the Eagle River Youth Coalition, Eagle County Public Health, and dozens of community leaders and agencies, recognized that pro-social involvement is the primary protective factor, or strength, throughout youth in the community. It is no wonder that Wyatt Nelson was nominated to serve as a youth advisor for CTC, even before this finding. Wyatt and ten fellow young leaders ensure the youth voice is strong in all aspect of the project. They provide honest insight into the challenges and benefits of growing up in the Valley, and have selected strategies such as incentivizing youth advisors in various community roles to help boost youth leadership in systems and policies. As Wyatt illustrates, “Being able to give my insight and discuss possible solutions to confusing and delicate problems with other board members, I am able to be a part of making the community a stronger place.” 

In broaching the subject of his future, Wyatt hopes to positively influence younger peers in the way that others have influenced him. He wants to show that even those without as much natural talent can achieve success through hard work and dedication. As fellow athlete and CTC youth advisor Gerry Lopez concludes, “I am honored to have met such an incredible, outspoken, committed young man. Wyatt has a very bright future ahead of him.” In the nature of his competitive spirit, Wyatt is determined to see his hard work pay off, whether on the field, in the classroom, or in his community endeavors.

Michelle Stecher is the executive director at the Eagle River Youth Coalition (ERYC), a local nonprofit organization that offers and supports collaborative prevention programs and services. ERYC tackles three main areas that affect the development of teens and adolescent youth including: substance abuse prevention, emotional wellness & mental health promotion and academic achievement. In addition to positive youth devlopment, ERYC offers various levels of parenting education and trainings for community members. For more information, call 970-949-9250 or visit

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Eagle River Youth Coalition - Making Youth a Community Priority
Physical Address: 34520 US Highway 6, C10 | Edwards, CO 81632
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 4613 | Edwards, CO 81632
Phone: 970.949.9250 |
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