Mark French For Congress issued the following announcement on Feb.22.
Butte Central High School and Butte Cares are teaming up to host an inaugural color run fundraiser on St. Patrick's Day.
The event will take place at the Maroon Activities Center after the St. Patrick’s Day parade.
“Butte is kind of known for its St. Patrick's celebration and, other than the parade, most of the activities are geared toward adult participation,” said Erin Stillens, prevention specialist at Butte Cares, a nonprofit organization focused on drug and alcohol prevention. “Now, there's something else for everybody to do, if they want to participate in something else on St. Paddy’s Day.”
Stillens said Butte Cares and Butte Central High decided to hold the event on St. Patrick’s Day to let kids and their families “know that there’s something more to do than just the parade.”
Registration for the event opens on Feb. 28 at bcr.myfunrun.com and costs $10. Volunteers will shower runners and walkers with non-toxic color powder at several stations throughout the race. Those who register will get an event T-shirt, and should come prepared for the rest of their clothing to be blasted with color.
Stillens said Butte Cares and Butte Central are still working out the details of the event, but will have it available once registration opens.
“The color run is our kickoff event for the Youth Coalition,” Stillens said. She said all the proceeds will be used to support the Butte Cares Youth Coalition to bring healthy, substance free activities to the community’s youth.
Although the coalition will be based at Butte Central, Stillens said any student in junior or high school regardless of school can join.
“[Butte Cares] works mainly with the youth in the community to teach them the dangers of starting to use any kind of substances with the brain still developing,” Stillens said. “And we try to put on events and help them have things to do, so we wanted to start a youth coalition.”
Stillens said another impetus for forming a youth coalition was “the lack of youth voice” and hearing from kids about the lack of activities.
“So we're starting to talk to them about what they want to see, and the main thing they want is more things to do,” said Stillens. “For the middle school and high school demographic, they say there's just not a lot of stuff to do in the community.”
Stillens said making youth a community priority is the guiding principle of the new Youth Coalition.
“We want to give the youth an opportunity to start creating events that interest them instead of having adults telling them what they could do,” Stillens said. “We want the kids to come up with these ideas … so we’re going to help them get started.”
Amanda Ellwein, transition specialist at Butte Central High School, said 18 students from the school have already signed up for the Youth Coalition.
“The students who have signed up for the coalition are excited to come up with substance-free activities for their age demographic,” Ellwein said. “Even the students who aren’t participating in the coalition are excited about it. They're excited to have a voice and come up with activities for the community.”
On Thursday, the Youth Coalition met for the second time during Butte Central’s school lunch period. Students shared some of their ideas on what they would like to see come out of the coalition.
Butte Central senior Coyt Stajcar said he joined the Youth Coalition after hearing from Ellwein it would be a chance for him to help make the community a better place. He said one of the things the coalition could do is donate funds to a local charity.
Luke Heaphy, who’s also a senior, said his desire to “work to better the community and everything around us,” inspired him to join the coalition. “I would like to see things like bowling days or ski days for kids to go to,” Heaphy said. “Just have more alternate activities that would be fun.”
Senior Emma Keeley said she hopes the Youth Coalition could host events and activities that students from different schools could also participate in. One activity that Keeley and her peers advocated for is a “Just Dance” video game event, where students can get together and play dance games with game consoles.
“I just think it’s super important for the city to get behind this,” said J.P. Williams, principal of Butte Central High School. “This is our children, and they are the most important resource we have.”
“Even if you haven't participated within the youth coalition yet, [the color run] is a fantastic way to give your resources or your time and come participate in something that's positive, and the whole community will be able to benefit from it,” Ellwein said.
Ellwein and Stillens said their goal is to get five businesses on board to sponsor the color run. Sponsors will have a chance to advertise their business at the event and throw paint powder.
“We'd like to at least get five businesses because there are going to be five different colors along the route,” Stillens added. “But we can always have more and have a couple of color stations because I'm sure the kids won't want to go five feet without getting pelted with colors.”
Williams said the goal is to be able to “work with the Chamber of Commerce and provide a long term platform for these types of events for all of the children, the families of Butte.”
“Overall, I would just say children have a voice that can be a very powerful voice, if we're willing to listen as a community,” Williams said. “These children are the future of this city, this state, our nation. We have to model exemplary behavior, exemplary opportunities for healthy lifestyle choices.”