Growing Colorado Kids is a nonprofit organization devoted to helping Denver’s refugee youth integrate and thrive in school and community settings for the past 10 years.
“Our mission is to reduce hunger, improve nutrition, and provide experiential learning opportunities for refugee youth through farming,” said cofounder Chris Lines.
When you first get to Growing Colorado Kids you can see how vibrant and joyful the farm is. There are chickens running around all over, two alpacas, horses, a pig, some roosters and a dog. In this place the children have the capacity to learn responsibility and kindness by caring for the animals.
A normal day at the Growing Colorado Kids farm starts out with a circle where the children and volunteers go around and express how they are feeling. Cofounders Chris and Denise Lines have seen more than a handful of kids who were not able to speak at their first circle jump around eagerly to express themselves just a few weeks later.
After the morning circle, volunteers and kids pick jobs to help care for the animals on the farm. Everyone splits up to do work until lunch followed by game time.
“The kids are by and large marginalized in their school. They get into the country and their parents have 3 months to get off welfare,” said Chris Lines. “One hundred percent of our kids are on free and reduced lunch so this supplements their food and home plus its organic and they’ve grown it themselves.”
There are about 2,000 refugees placed in the Denver metro area each year and Growing Colorado Kids is trying to help the children of those refugees be as independent as possible by teaching them basic life skills.
Each child receives a dozen eggs on their weekly farm visit, where they are also taught how to prepare the eggs as a meal along with other basic culinary skills.
Growing Colorado Kids states they have a 100 percent high school graduation rate for kids that have been in the program for a year or longer and they are always looking for volunteers to be a part of their community.
“Once you’re here and you feel the kids and you feel the energy, it’s easy to come back,” said Chris Lines.
To find out more information about Growing Colorado Kids or to volunteer click here.
Get Involved Colorado is a series that highlights nonprofit organizations across the state that are looking for volunteers. If you know of an organization that needs an extra set of hands and volunteers with passionate hearts, contact host/producer Karlie Huckels at firstname.lastname@example.org.