SOS Outreach launches 20th season in Vail Valley | VailDaily.com

SOS Outreach launches 20th season in Vail Valley

Daily staff report
newsroom@vaildaily.com

This year, more than 600 Eagle County kids will hit the slopes with SOS Outreach, which helps at-risk youth excel in the classroom and learn life skills on the mountain.

VAIL — As SOS Outreach launches winter programs this season, the organization is celebrating 20 years of serving youth in Eagle County. Founded in 1993, SOS has served more than 36,000 youth throughout the past 20 years, introducing participants to snowsports as well as values of courage, discipline, integrity, wisdom, compassion and humility.

During the upcoming season, SOS will serve 600 participants in Eagle County, 250 of them in the long-term, year-round "University" curriculum. Eagle County also has 38 adult mentors, or "Sherpas," who will lead students through the curriculum, encouraging goal setting, modeling the core values and having fun in the snow.

The SOS curriculum builds self-esteem and life skills through leadership workshops, community service projects, core value training, mentorship and ride days. Each activity day is paired with one of SOS' core values, empowering students to make connections between the value and the day's sport.

In conjunction with the 20th anniversary, SOS is launching a new leadership development curriculum for long-term participants. The new "Masters" program is designed for participants who have already completed five years of SOS programming and are looking for more ways to develop themselves as leaders in the community. Twenty-five Eagle County students have already started Masters program requirements this year — throughout the season they will practice mentor-based leadership capabilities, communication skills, self-directed goal-setting and strategies for creating change in our community.

Also new this year, SOS has added humility to the core values students learn on the hill. The core values provide direction to SOS' curriculum, giving students the tools to make positive life choices. Participants come from a variety of backgrounds, including failing grades, low-income households and single-parent families. Along with the opportunity to experience mountain sports, SOS mentors provide positive role models and encouragement these kids might not get anywhere else.

All of this positive change is made possible through the support of community members who step up to be mentors and through the generosity of mountain partnerships. Program director Mikayla Curtis said that "without the support we receive from the community and Vail Resorts, this level of impact wouldn't happen."