By Casey Crow
Nearly a decade ago, when it became evident that drug use among teenagers in Pagosa Springs was on the rise, people across the community came together to take action.
In 2005, a coalition of community members formed the Promoting Prevention Program, which recognized the startling lack of youth services available to the community, leaving teens vulnerable to addiction, and they brainstormed a program to fill the void.
A space was made available, volunteers arose from various places and food was donated from local food banks, but amidst the small army of people who made those early dreams realized, the Pagosa Springs Youth Center was carried most by Joanne Irons.
Irons was not only the founder, but, in every sense, she was the muscle behind the movement to keep Pagosa kids safe and healthy. Now, after almost seven years, Irons is being forced to part ways with a program very near to her heart.
In 2008, results from the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey reflected increases in drug use among seventh- through 12th-graders, which was followed by the closing of two youth programs in Pagosa — the Teen Center and Park Fun.
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