Kids learn values while boarding |

Kids learn values while boarding

Program aims to show riding can be a positive influence

— Courage. Discipline. Integrity. Wisdom. Compassion.

Not many people may associate these words with snowboarding. However, a five-week snowboard program kicked off Saturday that uses the stereotyped renegade sport to teach 10 local youths these five core values while providing the kids with some new positive role models.

The Snowboard Outreach Society’s Learn to Ride program teaches kids, who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity, to snowboard during five Saturday sessions. Each Saturday, one of the core values is discussed with the adults while enjoying free lessons, a free ticket and free gear.

“I think it went great,” said Christine Mongillo, a case manager for Steamboat Mental Health Center. “The kids were really excited about it.”

Steamboat Mental Health and the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. are administering the program using youth development professionals, snowboard instructors and volunteers to teach the youths and act as mentors.

The 10 Routt County children, ranging in age from 9 to 17, huddled in a circle Saturday morning at the ski resort to discuss the theme of the day courage. Then, with the theme in mind, the group split up five beginners and five experienced riders and spent the day snowboarding on the mountain. Before going home, the group huddled again to talk about examples of courage they saw and other positive aspects of the day.

The idea, Mongillo explained, is to find kids who have proven a need for constructive and alternative activities or don’t have the financial opportunity to take advantage of the sport. She hopes some youths will see that snowboarding is a positive aspect of life that’s worth devoting time to.

“I think it’s a great program,” Mongillo said. “I wish there were more like it.”

Last year, 670 Colorado children participated in the Learn to Ride program, which is provided at numerous resorts in the state. The goal is to introduce the feeling of freedom and control snowboarding evokes to stimulate interest in a positive activity, Snowboard Outreach Society coordinator Chad Young told the Steamboat Pilot & Today in December.

“We try to connect kids to the positive feeling of snowboarding and show how that can help them with other aspects of their lives in a positive way,” he said.

The Snowboard Outreach Society started in Vail in 1993 and had its first fund-raiser a year later by holding a halfpipe competition.

Today, the group hosts one of the largest amateur snowboarding series in the United States, featuring some of the best up-and-coming snowboarders in the nation, to raise money for the Learn to Ride program. The series came to Steamboat Springs the last weekend in December and will return March 9.

Steamboat’s Learn to Ride program continues through February.

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