“There’s so much for my family and me to do in this valley and at Mountain Rec. But I don’t even know how to start or where to go. What if the people there aren’t kind towards people like us? What if I don’t look, dress, talk, or come from the same background as they do? What if my kids’ coach looks down on my kids and treats them differently? Or, if my accent gets ridiculed while asking for help? Do I even belong here?”
Fears, uncertainties and more once anxiously ricocheted in the mind of Gypsum community member Jocelyn Solis, who since 1999 lived up valley. But in 2017 she stepped out of her comfort zone and counting on allies, finally discovered her community in Gypsum.
“My only regret is not having done it sooner,” shares Jocelyn. “When I first moved to the U.S. I kept to myself, my work, and my family, and I’ve been blessed – like many families new to the area. But nothing compares to the life my husband and I have built for our kids and ourselves as parents and individuals, thanks to the sense of camaraderie that we’ve discovered in recent years,” continued Jocelyn.
Originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, Jocelyn recalls a time when Latino families up valley were much fewer and what felt like far in-between.
“I feel like up valley, at least back then, was a very isolating place for Latinos. The disparity between social classes is often disheartening,” recalls Jocelyn. “Sure, many places claimed to be welcoming to everyone, but that wasn’t always the case once you walked through their front door. That quickly set an invisible barrier, the expectation, that certain recreational spaces and activities weren’t meant for people like me,” continued Jocelyn.
Nearly two decades later, conditioned to live within her lane and following a move to Gypsum, Jocelyn took the first step out of her comfort zone by getting involved with local organizations focused on empowering the Latino community. She started first by helping other Latinos with resources and family activities, and then with her newly- gained confidence, dove all in.
Soon Jocelyn found herself enjoying whitewater rafting on the Colorado River with her family, mountain biking with other moms on Haymaker in Eagle, and getting engaged with Mountain Rec programs like bilingual learn to swim lessons for adults.
“It took me one whole year of building up the courage and disregarding the fear of potential embarrassment, but I decided enough was enough. I was tired of living with the frustration of not being able to take my kids to the pool – I realized that in limiting myself, I was limiting my children and raising them with fear. I couldn’t live like that anymore,” said Jocelyn.
Fast forward several years, and Jocelyn has not only overcome her fear of the water, but she’s also developed new skills in bilingual adult learn to ice skate lessons and has developed her community in the FURY fitness class – getting to know people she would have never crossed paths with otherwise.
“I’m grateful … I’m in a good place. We’ve all been involved somehow. My daughter participated in swim lessons growing up and she had at one point even asked me to buy her a mermaid suit to wear at the Rec Center pool. She’s been in ballet, ice skating, and gymnastics. My boys have enjoyed Tumble Tots, birthday parties, gymnastics, swimming, and they love making friends at child watch. I’ve also been able to invite my friends and their friends to FURY – and now many of us introverts have connected and support one another on and off the fitness floor. It’s a 180 from how I once lived,” shared Jocelyn.
Taking things one step further, Jocelyn has also been participating on Mountain Rec’s Latino Advisory Committee since 2021. Focused on promoting welcoming Mountain Rec facilities and programs, in which our Latino community may feel at home, be represented, and able to connect.
‘Having a voice to communicate my community’s needs, seeing real change coming from my input, uplifting the community, and being a bridge has been empowering and inspirational. It’s exciting seeing the culture shift at Mountain Rec,” said Jocelyn.
When asked what Jocelyn would share with the community, especially other Latinos, she had this to say:
“I too was scared of getting close, of doing something different and out of my comfort zone, but I regret all the time wasted by not having done it sooner. It may take some getting used to at first, but know that others like you are considering taking that first step too, and that you both will have the full support of your friends at Mountain Rec,” said Jocelyn.