Learn to Ride will hold graduation ceremonies in Beaver Creek Resort, Keystone Mountain, Arapahoe Basin and Breckenridge Mountain this weekend for its 129 new graduates. Of the 720 youth taking to the slopes with SOS programs, those 129 will leave the program having completed 5 challenging days of learning to ski or snowboard. Learn to Ride is an introductory program funded by SOS, a Colorado-based youth development non-profit that teaches life skills and core values to under-served and at-risk youth.
“Learn to Ride is a unique and effective program” Says Learn to Ride coordinator Sierra Gatlin of Summit County “LTR is unique because on top of teaching the kids a new skill, it also helps them develop social skills, and learn about values that they can use on and off the mountain. I’ve seen kids start the program and on day one be scared and shy but by the fifth day at graduation they’re the most eager to share their definition of the core value. It really is a great program for the underserved youth in our community.”
Learn more about the program below:
SOS Outreach ,the Colorado-based non-profit, works to build character in at-risk youth by utilizing winter and summer adventure sports as a medium to instill the SOS Core Values—Courage, Discipline, Integrity, Wisdom and Compassion, into underserved youth. The Learn to Ride program is the first step into SOS’s leadership programs for youth.
It doesn’t end at graduation either. Students who complete the 5 day Learn to Ride program are eligible to join the University program-an intensive 4 year program that has students commit to greater levels of community involvement and personal growth. University incorporates continuous adult mentoring, community service and service learning, and life skills workshops that help set SOS participants up for healthy and successful lives. There are currently 570 youth enrolled in the University program throughout Colorado.
Beaver Creek and Keystone will host over 425 kids this Saturday and Sunday for the University program’s 4th ride day of the season. There will be nearly 70 adult mentors working with the kids and teaching them about the SOS Core Values. Taylor Hanson, an SOS graduate who now serves as a mentor for a group of students, had this to say about the University program. “ It’s been a joy of mine to grow up in SOS and I love that I can give back as an adult to kids who are just like I once was. It’s amazing to see the impact this program has had on my life and continues to have on the lives of these kids.”
Youth participating in SOS programs are often “underserved” in that they come from low-income families, single-parent households, may be involved in the court system or are demonstrating poor academic achievement. SOS tries to combat the everyday problems these kids face by providing programs that enhance their self-esteem and provide them with opportunities to become leaders in their own communities. By using outdoor activity as an incentive, SOS teaches life skills kids can use on and off the slopes.
SOS receives much of its support from participating resorts who supply passes and instructors to participants. Vail Resorts Echo Program in particular has been a long time supporter of SOS. This week, 700 of the youth that will be riding will be doing so at one of the Vail Mountains.
“SOS programs wouldn’t be possible without the Vail Echo Program’s generous support. We are very lucky,” said SOS’ Executive Director Arn Menconi.