SOS Outreach, a sports and youth development non-profit that works to get at-risk kids outdoors, kicked-off its 18th season this weekend by getting 362 underserved youth from all over the state out skiing and snowboarding.
For kids from Mapleton Expeditionary School of the Arts (MESA) in Denver the weekend was especially exciting. Thirty two students, who are also participants in SOS' University program, got a chance to meet and ride with two Sims pros, Seth Hill and Bryan Daino, at Loveland Ski Resort. Collective Licensing international, brand owners of Sims, have been donating cash and in-kind goods to SOS since 2007 and has been sending their riders out with SOS kids for four consecutive years.
"This is such a great opportunity. I feel like sometimes we take for granted that we get to do this every day," said Sims rider Seth Hill. "It's nice to bring it back and spend some time with 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 are facing by providing high quality 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 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. These values serve as a foundation for all SOS programs. "If it wasn't for SOS I would have dropped out of school," said Tyler Morrison, a SOS junior mentor who got involved with SOS through school. "I just didn't have the drive," said Morrison. He has been involved with SOS for over five years now and has since graduated.
Brian Phipps, SOS Regional Program Coordinator for Denver was excited to see the Sims riders out again with SOS kids at Loveland.
"These riders shed a positive light on at-risk youth. Not only does this opportunity show them that the community cares, but it gives SOS youth a chance to see where they can go in the sport and their lives if they work hard in and out of school," he said. "Days like this wouldn't be possible without the support organizations that believe in us. Organizations like Loveland and Sims make this happen."
This year SOS aims to serve 5,000 youth in 15 states and New Zealand. Arn Menconi, Executive Director and founder of SOS had this to say about the organizations growth. "We've come a long way from serving just Colorado youth through one-day snow sports. Not only do we offer summer programs, but these youth can choose to stay involved in our programs for multiple years now. We have kids who joined our programs at eight, graduated and came back to be adult mentors to new youth. It really shows the impact that our programs have."