Hundreds of Summit County youth on the hill with SOS Outreach
FRISCO – Michael DeGrado, of Frisco, was in third grade when he first joined SOS Outreach. One of his first activities with the organization was taking snowboarding lessons in the Learn to Ride Program.
SOS Outreach works with under-served kids all over Colorado and in 14 other states, offering programs designed to teach the organization’s core values: courage, discipline, integrity, wisdom and compassion.
And there are few better places to learn those values than the ski hill, SOS representatives say.
This week DeGrado, now 17, and 235 Summit County kids will take to the slopes to practice both their snowboarding skills and the SOS core values. They are among almost 1,200 youth in six states who will participate in on-mountain programs between today and next Saturday, in what will be the busiest week of the season for SOS.
Today, 160 SOS youth and 35 mentors will ski and snowboard Breckenridge Ski Resort, focusing on integrity and where it can be found on the slopes. It is the third of five weekly ski days the local group will take together.
Local beginners groups are skiing and riding at Keystone this week.
The youth, ages 8 through 18, involved with SOS locally and across the country are often low-income and might not otherwise have opportunities to learn to ski or snowboard. Many also face mental-health, behavioral or family challenges.
“(SOS offers) that extra support in a positive adult and … someone to ski and do things with in the community,” Summit County programs director Theresa Papandrea said.
The organization offers outdoor programs aimed at building self-esteem and character in the youth it serves.
For DeGrado, his years working and playing with SOS allowed him to meet people and have amazing experiences, including working out with the Breckenridge Free Ride Team.
“It’s helped me interact with the community,” DeGrado said.
Now, DeGrado is giving back to the organization. A junior in high school, he’s in his second year as a junior mentor. He said might go away for college after he graduates next year, but he hopes to eventually return to Summit County and to SOS Outreach.
More information on SOS Outreach programs is available online at http://www.sosoutreach.org.
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