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Piñon Project hosts Teen Nights every Tuesday and Thursday

Teen Nights at Piñon Project allows students to hang out with friends and do fun activities like going to the indoor skate park. (Unsplash)
Teen Nights include games, field trips and more

On Tuesday and Thursday nights from 4:15 to 7 p.m., the Piñon Project hosts teen nights, a free program which gives local teens a fun and safe place to spend their evenings while hanging out with friends, playing games, going on field trips and more.

Asialynn Hager, one of the event organizers, shared with The Journal that the Piñon Project provides rides to students to and from the program, who may not have a means to attend otherwise.

They have pickup locations at the high school and middle school, and staff will pick up students waiting at those locations, arriving back at the Piñon Project building about 4:30 p.m.

Drop off takes place between 7 and 8 p.m.

“We pick them up and bring them back to the Piñon Project and do a variety of activities each month,” Hager said.

Those who are new to the program and need information on getting a ride to or from the program can contact Hager or other workers at Piñon Project. Jaycee Taggart is the main contact at (970) 739-4074, and Hager’s phone number is (970) 529-3305.

Parents are also welcome to come by the Piñon Project building and pick up a packet in person.

Once there, students are greeted by food and drinks as they play games or do other activities.

This month, Hager shared that they have activities planned at the indoor skate park, crafts, a trip to the Cortez Recreation Center, movie theater, a Valentine’s Day party and more.

While the event is free, Hager noted that they ask teens to sign up after trying out the program once to ensure parent or guardian contact information is on hand.

When a student visits Teen Nights for the first time, they are given a packet that they are encouraged to have their parents sign and provide contact information.

“It is a program where they have to sign up, but we encourage them to come try it out, and if they want to continue to come then they sign up. It’s like the trial before you enroll so that way it’s not like you have to come and do the paperwork and stuff beforehand,” Hager said.

While some students contact Piñon Project before coming to learn more about transportation, Hager said they have some “drop-in” students who come as well.

“Sometimes you have kids who just show up and they’re like, ‘I heard you have teen nights tonight,’” Hager said.

Right now, the program has 10 to 20 kids attending on average, and Hager shared that they don’t have a maximum number of students that can come.

“If we do start getting more and more kids, we’re just going to get more grownups,” Hager said.

To Hager, the most special and important part of having this kind of program in the community is being able to provide a safe and wholesome place for teenagers to spend their time after school.

“My favorite part about it is probably the same reason I think it's important,” Hager said. “This time between after school the end of the day, going to bed or whatnot is really unstructured time for our kids and a lot of them don’t have anywhere safe to go or a pleasant to be, or they're at home just playing video games or out doing things that probably aren't the most productive.”

“They get to come here, be with their friends in a more unstructured environment rather than school where they're not going to get in trouble for talking to their friends or being goofy, and so they just get to really be kids and use the environment and be safe and have fun rather than being stuck at a desk or at home isolated,” Hager said.

The Piñon Project also has a Friday program for younger children whose parents work when students don’t have school on Fridays. Hager emphasized that this program is not part of teen nights, and teens shouldn’t show up on Friday morning.

“It’s an enrichment opportunity for our younger students who can’t be home alone,” Hager said. “It’s kind of like community-based learning and it’s not targeted towards teens at all. It’s definitely for a younger demographic.”

Parents who wish to speak to organizers and hear more about the program can contact Hager, who said those conversations are “more than welcome.”

More information can be found on the Piñon Project and its programs, as well as a detailed event schedule for Teen Nights in the month of February at their website www.pinonproject.org/.