SOS Outreach Celebrates Fifth Year of Youth Development in Park City
SOS Outreach is a nationwide youth development nonprofit focused on getting kids out in the mountains. They are celebrating their 27th season this month and the Park City chapter is celebrating its fifth year of getting local kids on snow.
Founded in Vail, Colorado in 1993, SOS Outreach offers programs aimed at building leadership and life skills through mentoring in the outdoors.
The organization focuses on snow sports like skiing and snowboarding to provide opportunities to not only get underprivileged kids out on the slopes, but provide valuable tools they can use throughout their lives as more involved members of their communities.
Abbey Eddy is the Program Manager of the Park City chapter and says the organization teams up with other local nonprofits to supplement their on-snow offerings.
“We do off-hill life skills workshops, collaborating with lots of different nonprofits in town as well to bring in other experts and give access for our kids to their knowledge and all of our youth do community service projects as well,” she says. “Developing partnerships with other nonprofits in the community and helping for our youth to feel more engaged, more involved.”
SOS Outreach programs are open to kids in the 4th through 12th grades.
The organization relies heavily on a robust network of mentors to make not only their on-snow programs work, but the off-snow life skills and character building as well.
Mentors are made up of volunteers from the community and are in contact with the kids in the program throughout the year.
“We have wonderful volunteers from the community who mentor our kids and they ski with them and then they also are checking in with them off-hill and throughout the year helping them to make sure that they have that supportive adult in their lives,” Eddy says.
Eddy says although being a good skier or snowboarder certainly helps, effective mentors are much more than just good athletes.
“We want a diverse range of mentors, people that are passionate about helping the next generation succeed, people who are passionate about skiing and snowboarding, but more than anything, helping youth to discover their goals to accomplish their dreams and be successful,” says Eddy.
In a year as upside-down as 2020 has been, children in particular have been seriously affected. With school schedules constantly changing due to COVID-19 and parents who might be going through economic struggles or have uncertain schedules themselves, providing some regularity to their lives is more important than ever.
Eddy says the outdoor nature of SOS Outreach makes that possible.
“I think we all can agree that what was normal feels far away,” she says. “Providing that structure and that sense of ‘here’s a schedule and routine’ and giving them something to look forward to is really crucial to having that future orientation and keeping kids motivated, and like I said, a big part of our programs is yes, we get to do things outside, but we also are helping to transition that into their home and their school lives. And we’ve seen that when kids know that they are looking forward to getting to ski on the weekends and they have their mentor calling in to check in on them that their attendance improves, their grades improve and so providing that structure and routine has been really crucial for our youth, especially right now when it feels like you never know what tomorrow is going to bring.”
SOS Outreach in Park City has seen a massive 700% increase in the number of families applying for financial assistance this year. Eddy says although that is a shocking number, no family will be turned away thanks to the organization’s generous network of partners that include Park City-based Armada Skis, the Live Like Sam Foundation, and the Park City Community Foundation.
SOS Outreach’s introductory learn to ski or ride program and four-year mentor program both begin this month.
More information about SOS Outreach can be found at here and to inquire about becoming a mentor in Park City, you can email Eddy at firstname.lastname@example.org.