Skip to content

Longmont’s Youth Center celebrates 40 years

The youth center continues to work on youth violence prevention
Longmont Youth Center (1 of 1)
The Longmont Youth Center, located at 1050 Lashley Street

Forty years ago, Longmont decided to invest in a youth center. When the decision was made it was understood that a majority of the funds to support the construction of the building would be raised through donations. 

However, no budget was outlined for the ongoing operation cost of the center.

When the Longmont Youth Center opened on June 26, 1984, its mission was the same, to engage Longmont’s youth in social activities and classes. These activities were designed to get the city’s youth to interact together in hopes of breaking up neighborhood rivalries.

At the time, Longmont was experiencing an increase in gang violence. Youth center staff were also working within the school system to provide intervention to break up gang activity and support for parents. They taught anger management and the cycle of violence classes for youth.

Beyond that it became a place where youth could hang out and start becoming friends with the hopes they could also build community, said Hilda Zamora Hursh, Children, Youth and Families manager. 

One of the initial programs, that is still around today placed rivals on the same sports team together. According to Hursh, this encouraged youth to see their rivals as friends instead of only enemies. 

“It was effective in building that community and that connection,” Hursh said. “What we could see was that it went from those gangs to reduced to nonexistent gang violence in Longmont.”

Hursh said youth violence increased again during the COVID-19 pandemic when they were not able to come together in the youth center. 

“Prevention is one of those things that is really hard to measure but where you see the effects of prevention is when you take away that prevention piece and you see things bubble to the top,” Hursh said. 

The youth center continues to work on youth violence prevention through a number of activities and classes. Hursh’s goal is to make a center where everyone feels safe and where they belong. Youth participate in a number of activities including monthly jam sessions, the mastery of skills, career services and more. 

“All of those pieces together are really what provides those tools that a community can provide for kids to be okay. It takes a village because it’s not only that parenting support but it is also the kids’ environment … if you have a community that invests in youth … that is going to create a stronger and better community overall,” Hursh said.

Longmont’s Children, Youth and Families division will host its 40th anniversary celebration on June 21 beginning at 2:45 p.m. at the Youth Center, 1050 Lashley St. There will be food, music and youth activities. At 5 p.m. the community can walk to Lashley Street Station to view the CommUNITY in Focus: Youth Photography Exhibition. 

The exhibit is designed to allow viewers an opportunity to see the Longmont through the eyes of its youth.

The event is free and open to the public but registration is requested.

Macie May

About the Author: Macie May

Macie May has built her career in community journalism serving local Colorado communities since 2017.
Read more