SOS Outreach expands into stand-up paddleboarding
SOS Outreach, a national youth sports-based charity, got its start nearly 18 years ago on the newness and passion of snowboarding. At the opening of Teva Mountain Games in Vail Thursday, SOS plunged into stand-up paddleboarding with kids from Eagle and Summit counties’ SOS University programs, learning that balance on a board and life are important skills for success.
C4 Waterman, the first manufacturer of stand-up paddleboards, hosted SOS kids at Bighorn park in Vail. C4’s premier athlete, Archie Kalepa, spoke to the group about having dreams and sticking with them. Archie explained in his Hawian accent: “My paddleboarding dreams are turning into reality, and now I travel bringing the sport to people everywhere.”
All the SOS participates have been in multiple years of SOS’s leadership programs. Students snowboard or ski in the winter and enroll in summer outdoor experiential learning through climbing and other sports. Sports are the vehicle to increase self-confidence and passion. SOS students complete workshops in service learning and leadership development that lead to leadership development.
“Stand-up paddleboarding is a natural summer-out-of-school-time program, along with our wilderness trips, climbing and mountain-bike programs,” said Arn Menconi, founder and executive director of SOS. “Kids’ self-esteem and positive decision making increase with the challenge of a new positive activity and the positive role modeling from the athletes.”
Bri Smith, a SOS participant, said: “I was nervous at first, but once I got my feet in the water and my balance down it was really fun.”
The youth asked many questions and agreed to Kalepa’s challenge of writing a short essay of what they aspire to be when they grow up. SOS participant Travis Tafoya enjoyed himself as he tried paddleboarding for the first time: “The C4 athletes were so nice and really took the time to teach us the sport.”
The kids got their feet wet and paddled around the lake learning the basics, trying not to fall on their first attempts. Students will continue to partner with C4 on five more paddleboarding lesson, building up to a river trip and increased life-skill training. Todd Bradley, CEO and founder of C4 Waterman, expressed his enthusiasm in partnering with SOS:
“We are really excited to team up with SOS because I thinks it’s unique to get kids together with sports and it brings a different energy to them and how to respect themselves, the community and the environment,” Bradley said. “I believe the sport of stand up is a conduit for that mission.”
SOS Outreach is a national youth sports-based development charity operating in nine states and New Zealand. SOS uses individualized outdoor sports as experiential learning to inspire youth to make positive decisions for successful lives. For more information, go to http://www.sosoutreach.org.
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