history in the making -2,005 SOS Kids On the slopes with SOS this week
There is a simple joy in skiing and snowboarding: breathing in fresh mountain air, gliding on fluffy white snow, being surrounded by dramatic peaks, conquering a once seemingly impossible run. Now, take that experience and throw in your best friends, a supportive mentor, and core values that allow you to better navigate life’s challenges and help you grow into a leader.
Each winter, SOS Outreach (SOS) provides this invaluable experience to underserved youth across the country. And the week of February 1-9, SOS is connecting more kids than ever before—in their entire 26 years of programs—to the joy of skiing and snowboarding.
Just how many kids will be out there? 2,005 kids on 19 mountain resorts in 9 different states! From the Cascades to the Sierras to the Rockies to the Midwestern hills—SOS is embarking on their largest week of programs to date.
SOS sees the slopes as an inclusive place. A place where every child has the opportunity to try a new sport, to connect with the outdoors, and to laugh, learn and grow with their peers. Regardless of whether kids come from a single-parent household, speak English as a second language, or have been told, quite frankly, that this place isn’t for them because of factors completely out of their control—SOS strongly believes this place is for them. It’s for everyone. And, through this transformative experience on the slopes, SOS is removing barriers for kids in our communities to discover their true potential.
“I feel this program has made me more confident as a whole,” shares Jordan, a 7th grader from Denver, Colo. “Even if I fall down, we’ve learned perseverance and leadership to be able to get back up. And we have our friends and our new friends supporting us all the way through it, these cool mentors, all these pretty views. It’s just crazy how much this program can change you. My confidence is raised a lot.”
What makes this upcoming week of programs even more exciting is that nearly all of these kids are enrolled in SOS’ longer-term Learn to Ride, Mentor, and Peer Mentor programs. This isn’t a one-and-done method. Participants are progressing through a 9-year, curriculum-based, intentional, focused approach to develop the skills they need to thrive.
Winter recreation in an encouraging environment isn’t all that SOS provides. Kids look at their communities and determine what challenges need to be addressed through service projects like cleaning up local rivers and water sources or delivering food boxes to neighbors in need. They participate in group workshops to learn skills like cooking healthy meals and recognizing signs when a friend is struggling with mental health. They become informed and engaged members of their communities.
“SOS has impacted my life because it has allowed me and my siblings to be able to snowboard and ski without worrying about the cost,” shares Alazne, a 9th grader from South Lake Tahoe, Calif. “But I’ve also become more confident in my public speaking skills and in my collaboration skills. In SOS, I have learned core values, and the workshops and guest speakers have helped me learn more about my community and the world.”
SOS’ participants come from mountain communities where skiing may exist in their backyard as well as from large cities miles away from the mountains. What they share is a determination to dream big.
While participants are the backbone of SOS, their programs wouldn’t be possible without the passion of their mountain partners to get more kids on the hill, the generosity of their corporate partners who literally gear up kids as they learn the skills to gear up for life, and the dedication of foundation partners, supporters and volunteers to help kids succeed.
“As we enter the next 25 years of programs and a major milestone in getting more than 2,000 kids around the country outside and on our mountains in a single week—we’re instilling a sense of confidence and purpose at the ultimate level,” shares Seth Ehrlich, SOS Outreach Executive Director. “We’re working to break down those micro barriers that exist with people from different neighborhoods, or with different skin color, or with different financial backgrounds. We’re empowering each and every one of these kids to realize their full potential and carve their own paths for an incredibly bright future.”
In celebration of its largest week of programs to date, help SOS Outreach youth succeed by getting involved today. Visit sosoutreach.org/give, to make a difference.