Vail Valley’s SOS expands to New Zealand
VAIL, Colorado – Vail Valley nonprofit SOS Outreach will begin its first programs outside the U.S. during winter in the southern hemisphere. The organization that works to help kids do better in school while learning winter and summer sports will begin programs at Cardrona Alpine Resort near Wanaka, New Zealand, said Arn Menconi, executive director of SOS Outreach. “We were very fortunate to have an ideal opportunity presented to us by Snow Sports New Zealand’s Ross Palmer and David Clegg of the Wellington Boys’ & Girls’ Institute,” Menconi said. “They bring decades of experience, connections, and above all, the enthusiasm it takes to make this possible.”During the 2008-2009 season in the U.S., SOS served 5,000 kids at 32 mountain resorts participated in SOS programs. SOS New Zealand his also in discussions with the operators of Turoa on Mt. Ruapehu on the North Island to introduce SOS in New Zealand during the 2009 Southern Hemisphere winter.”The goal of the program is to build character in at-risk and underserved youth to enhance decision-making for healthy and successful life experiences,” said Palmer, who has roots in Vail, serving as public relations director at Vail Resorts from 1993 to 1995. He’s now CEO of Snow Sports New Zealand, the nation’s governing body for winter sports. Clegg said the program helps fill a void for some of New Zealand’s youth, many of whom grow up surrounded by alcohol and eager to imitate images of U.S. culture they see on television.”New Zealand youth are not immune from the pressures of today’s world,” added Clegg. “Whether they’re kids from a single parent family, a family that has a history of drug and alcohol abuse, or early teenagers who emulate US gang culture, there are plenty of challenges out there that SOS can help address in a long-term, meaningful way.”Palmer and Clegg have recruited additional volunteers to help launch SOS on the South Island. Eric Schusser, head of the Outdoor Education Department at Dunstan High School, has teamed with Roger Williams, youth worker for the Alexandra Combined Churches Youth Trust, to help identify groups and individuals best suited for the SOS program.Snow Sports New Zealand Coaching Director Adam Dooney also joins the SOS New Zealand team in the South Island. For more information about SOS New Zealand, visit http://www.sosoutreach.org/group/sosnzPhoto Caption for accompanying photo:(Left to Right) Adam Dooney, Eric Schusser, Ross Palmer, David Clegg and Roger Williams (not pictured) have teamed up to form a snow sports-based charity for underserved youth – SOS New Zealand.Special tot he Vail DailyAdam Dooney, Eric Schusser, Ross Palmer, David Clegg and Roger Williams (not pictured) have teamed up to bring SOS Outreach, a snow sports-based charity for kids, to New Zealand.