By Polly Keary
Snowboarding is so expensive a sport that there are many kids who can’t afford it.
But thanks to a program available through the YMCA, a few kids won’t need to shell out hundreds of dollars for lift tickets and equipment.
Rather, kids who signed up get to snowboard for free.
It’s called the Chill Out program, and it is made possible by ski and snowboard manufacturer Burton and the YMCA.
The program became available because of a unique deal struck between the YMCA and Burton.
Former YMCA Teen Center Director Hannah Lunstrom reached out to Burton to see if she could send some kids to their annual winter sports program, Chill Out. But then she learned that Burton needed a place to store their gear during the winter season, and worked out a deal.
“We learned that we were granted seven spots for students,” said Morgan Huber, the YMCA’s new Teen Coordinator. “From there the Chill Program leaves it up to the agency to choose who gets to go.”
The YMCA staff elected to advertise the program in communities in which kids likely wouldn’t have another way to learn how to snowboard. They contacted the Minority Achievers’ Program, a program for children of ethnic minorities, and at alternative high school Leaders in Learning.
That made it possible for a number of kids to go based on their grades, financial status and reason for wanting to go.
There is no cost to the kids who get to go. Burton provides all the gear for the students and their chaperones.
Huber said that helping those kids access that opportunity was a great experience.
“One of my students from the Minority Achievers Program got back and I asked him if he had a good time. He said, ‘It was terrible!’” she said. “Then I asked ‘Really?!’ He then stated, ‘No… it was actually really amazing.’ The smile that came over his face after that statement is what continues to push me to try to do everything I can to provide these opportunities.”
This year, Burton funded the entire program, but next year, said Huber, the company will rely heavily on community support to keep the program going.
“I would strongly urge local community members to support this amazing opportunity for students,” said Huber.
For more information on how to donate contact Emily Reitman, local Chill Coordinator, at (360) 805-1879.