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SOS: Balancing work and play

Special to the Daily

FRISCO – When she first enrolled in an SOS Outreach program five years ago, Jenny Matlock had little experience on a snowboard. After her first year, she enrolled in the multi-year University program with SOS and learned how to link turns, as well as balance her schoolwork with extracurricular activities.

Matlock is now in her fourth year of the University program, and Robin Donnelly, her Sherpa, or adult mentor, has been with her each year.

“She didn’t have much experience when she first started,” Donnelly said, “But she a rockin’ girl. She always friendly, always in a great mood, and always encourages other kids in addition to being on top of her homework. It’s been great to see her grow as a person and embrace the core values.”

SOS Outreach uses a core value-based curriculum in all its programs, with each of the five on-hill ride days focusing on courage, discipline, integrity, wisdom and compassion. In addition to talking about what those values mean to them, students in the multi-year program collectively tackle an issue in their community.

Theresa Bisio, SOS program director for Summit County, said Matlock has managed to be in multiple after-school programs without compromising her work in the classroom.

“Jenny’s on the high school basketball team, and she’s been able to juggle that with her responsibilities in school, and those with SOS,” she said. “She’s just a good kid. With everything going on in her life, she always seems to get it all done and done well. She never makes an excuse.”

Matlock attributed her ambition to SOS programs.

“Each year has been better than the last,” she wrote. “It gives me a chance to be on the hill with some awesome people, and it keeps me more involved than I would be on my own … It is always so much fun.”

This weekend, Matlock will ride alongside more than 130 kids and 32 mentors on the slopes at Breckenridge, all of whom are enjoying their third ride day of the season.

Her personal growth, and that of SOS Outreach, is appreciated by Breckenridge and other resorts which, for many years, have donated everything from instructors to lift tickets and gear for programs.

“Vail Resorts Echo is very proud of the evolution and growth of SOS Outreach over the past 16 years,” said Pat Campbell, chief operating officer for Breckenridge Ski Resort. “It started as a single day program for 40 kids. But with dedicated staff who has taken the time to understand the best way to reach kids from all different demographics and build a passion for skiing and snowboarding, they now reach more than 4,500 kids across the country.”

Campbell said the program provides a unique opportunity for students to take part in local activities they may not otherwise engage in.

“Through SOS Outreach, we are able to give the experience of a lifetime to almost 2000 kids across our five resorts – Breckenridge as well as Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone and Heavenly – who may not otherwise have the opportunity to fully enjoy the spectacular mountains that are in their backyard.”

For more information on SOS Outreach, visit http://www.sosoutreach.org or call (970) 926-9292.


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