Since our founding in 1993, our work has been grounded in creating a more diverse, vibrant, and supportive community for marginalized youth. The power of this community has never proved as intensely critical as right now. The inequities exposed for kids struggling with economic, racial, social, and societal barriers have never been more amplified.
Thanks to our incredible partnership with U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team and Armada Skis, last weekend Olympic athletes Steven Nyman and Brita Sigourney joined our Utah community to ski alongside 95 of our Mentor program youth at Park City Mountain.
As the pandemic continues to sweep through our communities, we have doubled down on our efforts to provide consistent support, foster critical life skills, and strengthen our connection to meet the needs of our youth. We remain steadfast in our mission to stand by our participants’ side through an unprecedented season.
We believe that connection, support, and opportunity are the necessary ingredients for youth success. Our programs are designed to create strong leaders across our communities, but that doesn’t stop after youth graduate SOS. We’re excited to share that we’re launching a new SOS Alumni Network, Continuing the Circle! The goal is to create a thriving community for our alumni to connect, collaborate, and engage with our current participants, SOS partners, and each other.
Valeria’s story is part 1 in a multi-part series that highlights the long-term success of SOS with first-hand experiences from several alumni.
Our year three Mentor program participants embark on a leadership-driven service project completely designed by them. With their Mentor groups comprising 4-6 kids, they examine needs in their communities, explore prominent issues they want to address, and develop and outline tangible solutions. These kids are making a very direct difference right where they live.
“SOS has been my support system,” shares SOS alum, Jessica. “My junior year was really stressful. I was overwhelmed with applying for college, with school work, all the aspects of your education that start to mean a lot more as you get closer to graduation. Going to SOS was really beneficial for my mental health. Spending those 8 hours with friends on the mountain actually helped me center myself and go home with a better attitude and a more productive work ethic.”
At SOS, we often highlight how the skills our kids learn on the mountain translate to overcoming obstacles in their own lives: getting up after you fall, encouraging and cheering on peers, trying something challenging and new. Dr. Casey Wolfington, a licensed clinical psychologist at Eagle Valley Behavioral Health in Colorado, reaffirms why these skills and attitudes help guide our youth during difficult situations like this.
Community and human connection are at the core of our mission at SOS. When we teach kids to ski, snowboard, backpack, and climb in a safe and encouraging environment—we also introduce them to new positive and supportive relationships.
Our mentor/mentee relationships are a crucial component of our kids’ success. Many of our kids lack consistent, positive adult role models, and it can be tough to know who to turn to when the terrain gets steep. Now more than ever, these bonds are key in helping our youth persevere.
Last month, we began a series of season reflections to highlight the voices of kids, volunteers, and partners that make up the SOS family. In this month’s installment, we travel to programs across Colorado, Lake Tahoe, and the Midwest as our program managers share a few insights into the incredible youth and mentors that helped make this season so special.
As our program coordinators wrap up their seasons, we asked them to reflect on the year and share their favorite parts of the season. Below, we share their answers and their insights into the impact of their work.
April marks the close of our winter programs and although we are unable to celebrate in-person, we are proud to start a series of season reflections to highlight the voices of kids, volunteers, and partners that make up the SOS family. In this month’s installment, program team members across Lake Tahoe, Utah, and Colorado share a few insights into the incredible youth and mentors that helped make this season so special.
When kids are asked who their role models are, many point to professional athletes as figures they admire. Athletes embody strength, courage, determination, and discipline—and motivate us to set goals and dream big.
Kids at our Seattle program excitedly welcomed two such inspiring role models, former Seahawks and Super Bowl champions, Cooper Helfet and DeShawn Shead, at our recent program day hosted at The Summit at Snoqualmie.