Jackie1Name: Jackie Casillas

Recreation Center: Stapleton Recreation Center

Jackie moved to Globeville when she was nine years old and has worked for the City of Denver since she was fourteen, starting with the Summer Youth Program at the Globeville Recreation Center. She worked at the Stapleton Recreation Center even before working for MY Denver and was one of the first MY Denver staff hired. She now works with Globeville Recreation Center, located just 8 blocks away, to ensure similar programs do not overlap.

Jackie has seen the type of participation by youth at Stapleton and Denver recreation centers change from being a hang out space to be focused on programming that provides youth with structured opportunities to grow and learn. She is dedicated to working in recreation centers because she loves kids, and her two children ages 11 and 2 are often involved in recreation center activities. For her, working at Stapleton is not a 9 to 5 job—Globeville is a neighborhood with a small-town feel in an urban area due being surrounded by I-70, I-25, and the railroad. The homes are small, single family, and a man with an ice cream cart still walks through the neighborhood in the summer. Kids play at the park and in the street, and Jackie’s neighbors are people she’s grown up with. Everyone knows each other and each other’s children.

She feels that the challenges she sees are ones that have been ongoing since she’s started working with Parks and Recreation: Getting people to come to the recreation centers and then having a way for them to get involved and create change they’d like to see. She also says that the participation patterns based on time of year – in school or summer – should be accounted for in programming resources.

Jackie feels that MY Denver is so successful because it is a free program, young people know that they can go get the MY Denver card, and they will have programming they want to engage in. She feels that, in her neighborhood, families don’t have the expendable income for activities such as sports leagues and arts and crafts. She appreciates the creative freedom to respond to what the community says they need and want in programming. Currently, Jackie leads cooking classes, arts and crafts, gym games, and provides homework help. She emphasizes that the youth who come to Stapleton are respectful because they have a trusting relationship with the staff there–they need to see respect to show respect.