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Letter: Helping Young People Connect on the Mountain away from Screens

In this Vail Daily letter to the editor, SOS Executive Director, Seth Ehrlich, shares the importance of connecting with youth in the outdoors: 

The mental health crisis among young people is at an all-time high. The global pandemic, along with increasing reliance on social media and smartphones, has only made things worse. It’s clear that we need to take action to support the mental health of our youth, and one organization that is doing just that is SOS Outreach.

For nearly 30 years, SOS Outreach has been using mountain sports to build belonging and support the mental health of young people. Thanks to partnerships with organizations including Eagle County School District, Vail, Beaver Creek, and Epic Promise, SOS Outreach has been able to provide a critical connection through mountain access to over 500 kids and teens in Eagle County.

Through these programs, SOS Outreach is helping young people disconnect from media and connect with one another through shared activities. The mountains provide a safe and supportive space where young people can cultivate a sense of belonging, have meaningful conversations, and build relationships that last a lifetime. This year, more local youth than ever before entered SOS Outreach’s multi-year mentoring program, demonstrating the positive impact of the organization’s work.

While we can’t solve the mental health crisis overnight, SOS Outreach is providing young people with a safe space to connect, be themselves, and feel like they belong. I invite the community to support this important work and take action to support youth mental health in our own communities.

Seth Ehrlich, Executive Director, SOS Outreach