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Youth Center teens head "Into the Light"

Teens learn about the warning signs of suicide and sources of support during the Suicide Prevention and Awareness lock-in at the Buckley Youth Center Aug. 7, 2015, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. Aside from education, the lock-in also featured other activities such as laser tag and basketball tournaments. (photo courtesy of the Buckley Youth Center)

Teens learn about the warning signs of suicide and sources of support during the Suicide Prevention and Awareness lock-in at the Buckley Youth Center Aug. 7, 2015, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. Aside from education, the lock-in also featured other activities such as laser tag and basketball tournaments. (photo courtesy of the Buckley Youth Center)

Teens participate in an activity during the Suicide Prevention and Awareness lock-in at the Buckley Youth Center Aug. 7, 2015, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. Aside from education, the lock-in also featured other activities such as laser tag and basketball tournaments. (photo courtesy of the Buckley Youth Center)

Teens participate in an activity during the Suicide Prevention and Awareness lock-in at the Buckley Youth Center Aug. 7, 2015, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. Aside from education, the lock-in also featured other activities such as laser tag and basketball tournaments. (photo courtesy of the Buckley Youth Center)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Just before dawn Aug. 7, 30 teens left the Buckley Youth Center carrying lanterns and walked until the sun came up, symbolically walking into the light as part of the youth center's Teen Suicide Awareness lock-in. 

The event lasted from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. and involved several activities, including laser tag and basketball tournaments. The night was not all fun and games, however, as the teens heard from a military psychologist on the warning signs of suicide and the effect of stress on mental health and the body.

"We had scheduled activities, but we also just let everyone enjoy themselves. They could just relax and hang out with their friends," said Danielle Wright, Keystone Club president. "Suicide is a really hard subject to talk about, especially if it personally affects you, so we just wanted that to be the focus, but we didn't want it to be overwhelming."

"We did suicide prevention awareness because it fit other themes in it, like mental health and bullying," said Fallon Shori, Keystone Club vice president.

Wright, along with vice president Fallon Shori, planned the event as part of the Buckley's Keystone Club, which is part of the Boys and Girls Club Keystone Club Program, a character and leadership development club for teens ages 14-18. The youth center is a charter member of the Boys and Girls Club, and like all other base youth centers, is required to have a Keystone Club on base.

Aside from raising awareness about teen suicide, the lock-in was also part of a larger initiative by the Keystone Club to attain a gold level in the national program, which would earn them an invitation to the national Keystone Club conference. It would also make them the first-ever Buckley Keystone Club to reach that level.

"Right now we're at a silver level for our Keystone Club, so what we're trying to do with the lock-in is a teen outreach event," said Wright.

The lock-in satisfied the teen outreach requirement in the process of reaching the gold level, as well as the requirement that the event be part of a national project, like teen suicide awareness.

"Colorado ranks among the top 10, nationally, in teen suicides, so it's an important issue," said Vince Kurtz, Buckley Teen Coordinator. "Getting to the gold level, we're automatically invited to go to the national keystone conference. It's getting resources, networking with other Keystone clubs and leaders and finding out what concerns teens have nation-wide."

Early in the morning, just before the sun came up, the 30 teens left the building and took a walk, carrying lanterns through parts of the base, which symbolized the lock-in's theme, "Into the Light."

Aside from being a teen outreach project, the lock-in was also a unique opportunity for the teens involved in the club to gain some great experience in leadership and event planning. It also provided them an opportunity to touch their community in an impactful way.

As the club strives toward their goal of reaching the gold level, they hope to hold more teen outreach events in the future as the youth center continues to serve Buckley Air Force Base and impact the surrounding community.

"I'm glad that I had the opportunity to participate in this event and hopefully we got to affect other people that were there, and hopefully they learned a lot of different things and had some fun," said Wright. "I hope I can do this again in the future and reach out to more people."
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