New Homebase, schools rock, and more With an emphasis on programming for youth, music education, an emphasis on health and expanded ways to get around by foot or bike, northern Colorado continues to be a great place to call "home."

NoCo has a new Homebase

Realities For Children Charities' (RCC) new Homebase Facility and Youth Activities Campus opened last month at 308 East County Road 30, Fort Collins.

The Homebase sits on four acres in Larimer County, south of Fort Collins. The facility is intended to be a safe haven and centrally located space for children and families served by Realities For Children's agency partners. The facility also supports RCC's services and programs, including Back To School Supplies, Warm Winter Clothing, and Santa's Toy and Bikes For Tykes.

“Congratulations to the continued success of Realities for Children on the completion and the groundbreaking of the Homebase Playground and Park," says Fort Collins Mayor Wade Troxell.

"RFC is a great impact partner in northern Colorado and Fort Collins, improving the lives of children in our community.”

Learn more at www.RealitiesForChildren.com.

Fort Collins' schools rock

Hundreds of public school music teachers, higher​ education leaders and public school district arts supervisors from across the United States recently convened at Colorado State University for a four-day, intensive Modern Band Rockfest and​ Symposium​. It was presented by the national nonprofit Little Kids Rock​ (www.littlekidsrock.org), and was underwritten by ​Bohemian Foundation (www.bohemianfoundation.org) , which has partnered with Little Kids Rock since 2012 to bring Modern Band music programming to Poudre School District in Fort Collins, where more than 6,500 students and 52 teachers in 32 schools currently participate. 

Little Kids Rock pioneered this new offering in music education called "Modern Band," which connects learning to the musical styles kids already know and love, namely the contemporary music of the past 60 years. The method emphasizes improvisation, composition and learning to play instruments used in popular music: guitar, piano, drums, bass, vocals and technology.

Melissa Flail, Poudre School District's music curriculum facilitator and Little Kids Rock regional program coordinator, says she’s excited that several PSD teachers were able to benefit from the symposium's "professional development workshops, opportunities to network with other music teachers from around the world and gain a perspective about how blessed we are to have our traditional music curriculum, as well as this new way to teach music that engages students who may not want to learn to play traditional instruments."

Learn more about "Modern Band" at www.littlekidsrock.org.

Painting for the health of it

A new mural designed and painted by the Weld County Health Department’s Tobacco Control Program and PACT (Preventing Addiction Caused by Tobacco) Youth Advocates and local artist Armando Silva portrays the importance of smoke- and vapor-free places as they protect the future of Weld County Youth. The mural is located on the back-west wall of 805 8th Street in Downtown Greeley.

Studies show that young people who live in communities with strong clean air protections are less likely to smoke than those who live in communities with weaker protections. In Weld County, 17 percent of high school students report smoking cigarettes on one or more days in the past month and nearly half of Colorado youth have tried an e-cigarette. This mural highlights the need for more work to be done to protect the heart, lungs and future of Weld County youth.

“The mural is really a symbol of what I believe in, which is creating spaces where people can breathe happily and healthfully. I really enjoyed getting up there with other people who share similar beliefs and watching that belief come to life,” says Alicia Orr, PACT Youth Advocate.

Find out more information about the Protect Your Future mural project at https://www.weldgov.com/cms/One.aspx?portalId=169&pageId=3776.

First paved trail connects Loveland, Fort Collins

A new concrete trail that connects Loveland and Fort Collins and each city's extensive paved trail networks opens this month.

The two-mile Colorado Front Range Trail—Loveland to Fort Collins Connection is located between Lemay Avenue and Timberline Road on the east side of the cities. From south to north, it extends from Loveland's Recreation Trail just west of Boyd Lake State Park to the City of Fort Collins' Fossil Creek Trail at Carpenter Road.

It is the first paved trail to connect the cities' trail networks. It provides a way for people to travel from the 35 miles of paved trails in Fort Collins' system to the 18 miles of trails in Loveland's system without hopping off their bike or getting in a vehicle. The new trail is multi-use, open to both foot traffic and non-motorized bicycles.

The two cities first conceived of the idea for the trail in 2002, identifying it as a possible segment of the larger Front Range Trail system, which will extend from New Mexico to Wyoming. The Colorado Front Range Trail—Loveland to Fort Collins Connection remains a potential segment of this larger, statewide trail system, depending on that trail system’s final alignment.

"This trail contributes a critical segment of a regional trail network that will someday connect all of northern Colorado, and eventually the entire state," says Suzanne Bassinger, with City of Forts Collins Park Planning & Development. "We look forward to continuing these partnerships and expanding the world-class trail experiences available to our citizens, our neighbors and our visitors to the area. Our thanks go to Larimer County for leading this project."

Grants of $450,000 from the Colorado Department of Transportation and $350,000 from Colorado Parks and Wildlife's State Trails Program will cover two-thirds of the trail's cost. The cities and county will make up the difference based on the proportional costs of trail construction within each jurisdiction. Homeowners' associations and other entities that granted easements for the trail also make construction possible.

Next up: A second trail—the 4.4-mile Long View Corridor Trail—will be located on the west side of the cities, running along the east side of North Taft Avenue in Loveland and South Shields Street in Fort Collins. It is expected to break ground in the fall of 2017 and will provide a second safe, non-motorized alternative to traveling between the two cities.

To learn more about these paved trails, visit www.larimer.org/openlands/regional-paved-trails.htm.