Persistence is the key.
Getting up when you fall, trying again when you fail.
"Who can tell me something you've been persistent about?" asked
They look like any group of young snowboarders decked out in the latest Burton gear, but looks, as we know, can be deceiving. These kids can't afford snow sports or the gear, much less bus fare to the mountain. In fact, some live in homeless shelters, others live in group homes around
They are here thanks to
"Even if you try and don't make it, that doesn't mean you are bad at it. You just have to try again." Says Bleonda Sulejmani, 12, who is in the second week of the program at
"Everyone is in this together so you don't have to worry about looking stupid," adds her friend
Every week for six weeks kids between the ages of 10 to 18, like Jasmina and Bleonda, are bused to a mountain near where they live, outfitted from head to toe and taught to snowboard. They're also taught plenty of life lessons. "Snowboarding is just the vehicle," says
Such programs are just as beneficial to the snow sports industry as they are to underserved youngsters. "It's critical for our industry to reach out to include as broad a constituency as possible," as a way to grow the industry, says
"Sure you hope they'll become lifelong snowboarders," says
Both SOS Outreach and CHILL say they could serve a lot more youngsters if they had more resources, including additional Americorps Vista volunteers like
"When someone gets to the top of the mountain and conquers the mountain," he says, "That has a profound effect on developing their self-confidence."
Clearly, these programs are doing something right. The kids' social workers and counselors report a dramatic improvement in their schoolwork and behavior. "It really makes a difference when people encourage you," explains Jasmina.
That's true for the new-to-snowboarding crew I've brought up to
In this economy, ski resorts are doing all they can to draw in customers -- free lodging nights, free lift tickets and free lessons. But what they need to do most, I think, watching the boys laugh as they try to navigate turns and the bunny hill, having a terrific time, is to work harder to reach kids like these.
"Smooth ... just like a dancer," CHILL instructor
"I didn't think I'd be as successful," acknowledges
"It's unbelievable what these kids can accomplish," says Townsley. "All they need is a little support."
Already, after just two weeks, Bleonda Sulejmani tells me, her grades are improving. "You leave here so happy you think you can do anything," she says.
And she can.
Recent Vacation Ideas & Travel Destinations
- Family Friendly Day Trips From London
- Family Vacation Savings Tips
- Taking the Kids - Skiing in Telluride
- Taking the Kids - Skiing this Winter without Busting the Budget
- Taking the Kids - How Snow Sports Can Transform a Child's Life
- Taking the Kids to Mohonk Mountain House
- Taking the Kids - Old-Fashioned Train Ride to the Grand Canyon
- Bound For Buenos Aires Argentina
- Michigan's Mackinac Island
- Polynesian Odyssey Voyage to the Marquesas Islands
- The Magic Of Bora Bora
- Puerto Vallarta Family Fun Down Mexico Way
- Yosemite National Park in Winter
- Resort at Squaw Creek: Mountain Luxury in Any Season
- Taking the Kids to Saint Lucia
(c) 2010 Eileen Ogintz
World-renowned chefs with an extraordinary passion for food, share that passion. They make great cooking easier than you ever imagined. Each feature includes both an expert tip and an easy recipe - exactly what you need to transform your home cooking from acceptable to delectable.
Recipes Click Here
Movie Reviews, commentary and more. Plus Trailers from movies currently in theaters and available on DVD.
Movie Reviews Click Here