We are an eclectic mix of artists, life coaches and therapists. We came together because we care about our youth and know growing up is not an easy task. Each of us brings something a little different to the table. As a group our goal is to help you find the confidence to embrace being you.
I was a shy kid and dreaded being in unfamiliar group settings. Over the years I’ve pushed myself and overcome debilitating bouts of depression in my 20s and 30s. Travel gave me the confidence to push boundaries and to grow. Finding art as an outlet and developing a deep-set connection with nature was a game changer. I started as a substitute teacher during the pandemic and saw first-hand how many young people are struggling. As a mother I am aware of the challenges our children face and wanted to do something to help.
I gathered a group of teens to explore what needs they feel are unfilled. I spent hours talking to a host of incredible people in our community to hear what is already offered for mental wellbeing and explored what resources are currently under-utilized. Through it all, Sarah Kostin emerged as the most perfect partner to pull a vision together. She and Tina Harlow were instrumental in making You Out Loud become more than an idea. We are grateful to Kelly Landers at the Boys and Girls Club of Northwest Colorado for agreeing to support this endeavor as our partner and fiscal umbrella.
Art is a great unifier and speaks to people from all walks of life. There is no right or wrong with art and we can use it to explore ourselves and the world around us. Art in its many forms can be used to lift our voices and be heard, without the need for words. It can be a window of interpretation to someone’s view of the world around us. Teens often feel isolated and alone in their struggles. We wanted to create a space where anyone can fit in and be part of something regardless of talents, race, gender, religion or sexual orientation. You Out Loud is an opportunity to explore self-expressionism, build confidence, make new connections and pick up life skills.
Suzi Mitchell, Founder
We live in an increasingly fractured world, quick to judge and prone to assigning labels that often become impossible to see beyond. In many ways, this reminds me of my first years in SoRoCo Elementary and Middle School: I was the “weird kid” and worse, the one who’d rather draw than play video games; the one who’d rather build a treehouse than plink away at birds with an air rifle. I didn’t want to change, but was terrified that I’d never be accepted as the person I truly was, indeed the person I still am. Fortunately, enough voices encouraged me to stay true to myself, and after several years I began to see my peers’ rejection shift ever so slightly toward curiosity, acceptance, and even admiration.
I’ll be the first to say that it’s not only kids who feel isolated, and it’s not only kids who form tribes and label others “the enemy”. More and more each year, it’s become clear that humanity is experiencing a mental health pandemic that’s taking lives and tearing us apart. I have great faith, however, that if we intentionally invest in creating community, none of us need be alone.
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