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Finding ways to do more than just games on the court!

Power2Play has started a new program, called the Suicide Awareness Prevention Program (SAPP). The program was created to help spread awareness on the rising rates of suicide among teenagers. When the pandemic first arose, staff members, became aware of these rates on teens and wanted to take a stand to spread awareness.

“The SAPP program evolved during the pandemic as we became aware of the suicidal rate among teens throughout Colorado. We didn’t see anything from leadership at the top, no mention of it, or recognition that this was happening. While COVID was dominating the press, families were struggling and many were losing close/loved ones, without anything to fall back on or help. This is where our idea grew,” said Michael Peterson, owner of Power2Play.

Power2Play now offers open gym time every Friday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., for teenagers from fifth to twelfth grade, to enjoy either basketball, pickleball, volleyball, or just time to run around and be a kid. They are allowed to show up completely free of charge and are provided with gym space, balls, and court time. Power2Play also offers free drinks, pizza, and snacks.

“I believe this program is important for our community of kids to attend based on the pandemic and having to be inside behind a screen for most of the day. Some kids don't have the outlet through team sports, and we are in a position to provide an opportunity for them,” said Michael Douglas, Assistant Director of Operations and director of SAPP. “I wanted to be the director of this program because it is very close to my heart. When I was a teenager, my sister attempted suicide and I played an important part in saving her that night. It remains a sensitive topic and drives me to get this program to succeed in every way possible.”

The SAPP was made to be an outlet for teenagers to have no matter the circumstance. This is a chance for them to get out of their homes, and have something to look forward to if needed. Director of volleyball, Heather Evans believes this resource is crucially important for teenagers and parents.

“I lost my only sibling to suicide. When I reflect on his life and the resources he had available, I cannot help but feel he would still be here today if there was a SAPP in our hometown. This program is desperately needed and will save lives. I’m grateful our owner, Michael (Peterson) has chosen to stand up for today’s youth, recognized the need, and opened our doors,” said Evans.

Since the initiating process began, Power2Play has been in contact with county officials throughout Northern Colorado to help bring more awareness to the program. Michael Douglas also has brought in community partners to provide pamphlets, checklists, and other resources for teens and parents to take, to learn more about suicide. These also offer help on how to recognize suicide warning signs and how to cope with a suicide loss.

Story By: Samantha Demers

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