July 12th

Where and When :

 Virtually 8am-4pm

Nottingham Pavilion 12 pm- 4pm

The He(art) of Vail Valley’s Youth


A creative path towards mental well-being

While life slowed or even came to a standstill during the pandemic and subsequent quarantine, creativity seemed to soar. And the beautiful part about creativity is that there is no one-size-fits-all. Some young people found their passion in dance or creative writing, others meditated on mountain bikes, and some painted canvases or designed pottery.

“A creative act such as crafting can help focus the mind, and has even been compared to meditation due to its calming effects on the brain and body. Even just gardening or sewing releases dopamine, a natural anti-depressant. Creativity reduces anxiety, depression, and stress,” Forbes magazine declared well before the pandemic brought us all indoors.

Mountain Youth, Red Ribbon Project and Valley’s Voice recognize the soothing art of, well, art and are bringing The He(art) of Vail Valley’s Youth to life Sunday, July 12 at Nottingham Park in Avon. Featuring two-time Olympic gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin, this hybrid event will empower youth to overcome mental health stigmas via therapeutic creative outlets.

This event is part virtual, part in-person and 100% for the whole body. Anabel Johnson, the creator of the event and Mountain Youth’s youth engagement coordinator, knows firsthand how important the arts are. “As someone who grew up in this valley as a theatre and artistic kid, I realize how life-changing the arts can be, especially when it comes to mental health stigmas,” Johnson says. “I believe that anyone would agree that the arts are therapeutic — they focus the mind away from the bad and onto the good. Plus, the arts widen the imagination, and when has a broad imagination ever been a bad thing?”

The virtual aspects include pre-recorded videos of young people’s performance work—music, dance, theatre, creativity in motion. The afternoon will consist of a live stream (via Zoom) of the in-person activities, which include a visual arts showcase / display; and speakers, who focus on the therapy of creativity.

“Our six speakers from across the valley will discuss topics including overcoming anxiety and loss, and how the arts can be therapeutic,” Johnson shares. The speakers include Gerry Lopez of EVBH, Zyanya Rodriguez  of Hearts Reign, Susanne Graf of Vail Mind Center, Drake Brown of EVHS, Sam Litt and Kaselyn Komives with SpeakUp ReachOut and two-time Olympic gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team.

Shiffrin, a beacon of light and positivity, devastatingly lost her father earlier this year. Following her on Instagram and Facebook, we see her working through her heartache with song, dance and movement. We are inspired by one of the world’s best athletes and encourage other young people to find their expression in the arts.

Young people are asked to submit their work—whether it’s a modern dance or video project, to be shared via the Mountain Youth website HOME | theheartofvailyouth.

After all, as Shakespeare said, all the world’s a stage and this is an incredible opportunity to showcase all the talent found here in the valley.

These events couldn’t happen without the support of our incredible community and engaged sponsors including Colorado Trust, Slifer Smith & Frampton, Daniel’s Fund, Kaleidoscope Productions, Eagle Valley Behavioral Health, State Farm (Will Comerford), Communities that Care, Town of Avon, Village Bagel and Qdoba.

Want to learn more? Reach out to Anabel Johnson, youth engagement coordinator, at; visit; follow / like @MountainYouthEagleCounty on Facebook and follow @mountainyouth on IG.

Mountain Youth was founded in 2001 and has grown over the decades. In 2019, Mountain Youth engaged 15,377 residents, creating a safe place for conversation, giving young people a voice, providing accurate information and creating a community where all youth thrive. In 2020, Mountain Youth embraced the virtual world in response to COVID-19, while keeping a pulse on the community’s needs, health and well-being.

Valley’s Voice is a catalyst for change in Eagle County. It is a one-stop shop for youth to have a voice, be involved and make impactful change. Led by a Youth Executive Board, Valley's Voice is comprised of young people ages 10 to 25. Valley's Voice hosts events across the county to collect input on key issues for youth so that projects and progress can be facilitated.