We sat down with Seth the Interim Executive Director of SOS Outreach to chat and find out more about how they are sharing the ride. SOS Outreach is a youth development nonprofit that fosters self-confidence, leadership skills, and positive decision making in underserved youth. SOS programs are unique in their use of adventure sports to engage participants for future success. Keep your eye on SOS and +swappow for future collaborations that get us closer to our goal of getting 10 million kids riding by 2018!
Tell us a bit about SOS, who you are, and what you do?
SOS is a 21 year old organization that uses skiing, snowboarding, rock climbing, backpacking, and other outdoor adventure sports to engage and excite kids who are at risk and considered underserved youth. We have a program that pairs students with an adult mentor that encourages them to make positive and healthy decisions for a successful future. We use sports to excite, and expand opportunities for kids, as well as to build self-confidence.
What’s your mission? Your goal?
Our mission is to inspire youth to make positive decisions for a healthy life so youth can be successful. We support and encourage kids to graduate high school using core values. We recruit at-risk kids who are not on track to graduate high school. We have partnered with 150 youth agencies and schools where we identify a teacher that refers the students. We look for students who have academic risks, behavioral risks, personal risks, come from low-income families, or come from single-parent households.
What inspired you to start this program?
SOS originally started when Vail was discussing banning snowboarding on the mountain. We started SOS to give a positive image to snowboarding and to get rid of the negative societal perception of snowboarders at the time. We wanted to show them how action sports can have a positive influence on kids and people in general. We organized snowboarding competitions, then we donated the money from comps to charities. 1995/96 started bringing 40 kids to a 1 day program from Denver up to Vail, and turns out it was successful. In 1997 and 1998 we started our 5 day Learn To Ride Program, in 2001 our program grew to serve over 600 youth, and we were able to start a 4 year SOS University Program which paired students with an adult mentor.
Tell us how you have impacted kids?
We impact the kids by providing opportunities for them to succeed and set goals for future success. We help them to achieve their goals with adult mentors and a curriculum that gets them involved in the community. Our core values are courage, discipline, integrity, wisdom, compassion, and humility.
What’s one of your favorite success stories you have seen?
A participant that started in the 5 day program and eventually graduated to the 4 year university is now a finalist for a 4 year scholarship to a great college. He is 1st generation in the US and had what seemed like no opportunities to begin with. He was considered an at risk youth when we first met him. SOS got him involved in the community and now he wants to be a teacher. I am extremely proud of him!
In your own words, describe any plans you have to work with +swappow?
We are excited because of the passion +swappow has to expand the opportunities for people who wouldn’t be able to get on the hill. We can’t wait to partner with them in the future to further the mission of Sharing the Ride!
“Organizations like SOS inspired us to start Swappow so we are proud to have the opportunity to collaborate with them. We even share the same big vision of helping 10 million kids. We are going about it in two unique ways and they lineup really well with each other. “ Joe Dunnigan,Swappow Founder