These Young Refugees Know All About Winning and Losing -- They Just Want to Play

Like a lot of newcomers, Jason Hicks was a bit flummoxed by his first visit to the Shadow Tree apartments last year. The complex, just a short stroll off East Colfax in Aurora, is home to a growing number of refugee families, relocated from places like Nepal and Burma and Somalia. It's a population that remains largely invisible to most metro-area residents, a cluster of otherness separated from the larger community by barriers of language and culture and the thick walls of I-225, which runs like a concrete curtain right across the street.

Hicks, a 33-year-old electrician and former PE teacher, had come to Shadow Tree to check out a program he'd heard about through his church; volunteers had been scrounging bicycles for the refugee kids and showing up regularly at the apartments to repair them. Hicks thought that sounded cool. But when he first entered the Shadow Tree complex, he felt like he was crossing an international border.

See also: Meet the Players of the Niyakko Rush

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Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast