The Park City community thrives when we all work together, the proof is in the impact

 “I like that I just slay it down – I may fall, but it’s fun,” said program participant, Anthony M. “I like to go all the way to the top of the lift and just slide down.”

In December 2020, Park City Ski & Snowboard (PCSS) launched the Little Shredders program, a 10-week snowboarding experience at Woodward Park City designed to educate kids ages 7-10 on how to be better snowboarders. Their goal was to intentionally fill six spots of the program with students who don’t typically have access to boarding at Woodward through scholarship funding that would give kids the opportunity to participate and the gear they needed to get out on the mountain. Yet PCSS did not have the resources available to identify candidates for their scholarships. Recognizing this, PCSS tapped SOS Outreach, a nonprofit that gets underrepresented kids on the mountain to ski and snowboard.  

Abbey Eddy, Utah’s Senior Program Manager for SOS Outreach, was their first point of contact. Eddy knew the programs she oversaw through SOS catered to 4th, 5th, and 6 graders, and therefore may not reach the exact demographic that PCSS was looking for. Eddy then reached out to Park City Community Foundation’s Community Impact Manager, Sarah MacCarthy, in hopes the Solomon Fund’s resources would help connect the appropriate families to the Little Shredders opportunity. The requirements for the program were specific, so MacCarthy turned to the Youth Sports Alliance (YSA) to narrow down which families would be best for her to contact with a personal invite. The list was long, so in turn, MacCarthy contacted outreach workers in the Park City School District to identify the best-suited kids for the program, then utilized her pre-existing Solomon Fund connections to personally reach out to individual families.

Over the span of a week, six organizations and businesses across the Park City community came together to identify and register six kids for the Little Shredders scholarship program. Thanks to the collective effort of each team, the kids have been progressing and shredding at Woodward every Thursday night since the beginning of January. 

“In a general overview of Park City, 75% of people move here to ski and snowboard,” explained Eddy. “25% move here to work. And with those 25%, they look at these mountains every day and they don’t get the same opportunities as the other 75% who have moved here to enjoy the mountains. That’s a big disparity. Recognizing there are different reasons why people move here but we can all enjoy the same things is powerful and important, and we want to make sure there are intentional opportunities for all of our kids to be able to get out on the mountain.” 

The benefits of a program like Little Shredders extend outside of just learning how to ski or snowboard. With programs like these, kids can get outside and enjoy nature. They have a chance to make friends with similar interests, and to learn from adult mentors. They may learn how to take instruction and apply criticism to better themselves when faced with a challenge. There is an opportunity to build confidence, to learn how to fall, get up, and try again. And most importantly, it’s fun. 

“I like that I just slay it down – I may fall, but it’s fun,” said program participant, Anthony M. “I like to go all the way to the top of the lift and just slide down.” 

Part of the effort it takes to bring these kids opportunities is years’ worth of building relationships with families and understanding that creating a welcoming environment and sense of belonging is important to creating an inclusive environment. On day one, Eddy made sure she was on the ground to welcome families arriving at Woodward. She introduced them to their coaches, helped them get situated with gearand acted as a familiar face for parents and kids so they could get started with confidence. MacCarthy recognized relationship building as one of the most helpful tools when connecting the community through her work with the Solomon Fund, and something that Park City should continue to strive for. 

We don’t want to just send kids into a space that maybe hasn’t been designed for them, said MacCarthy. “We really want to make sure that as we strive to be more inclusive and equitable, the spaces we invite folks into are that as well.” 

Knowing the ins and outs of the community is also of key importance. In Park City, nonprofits like SOS Outreach, YSA, and programs like the Solomon Fund are actively doing the work to build strong relationships and connections between families, funding, and sport. In turn, they are building trust and rapport between folks underrepresented in the Park City community. PCSS recognition that they needed help in identifying the most deserving participants is an example of what it means to utilize pre-existing resources and connections in order to benefit everyone involved. 

“Not duplicating work is an incredible benefit,” commented MacCarthy. “When everybody is working in a silo, not as much gets done. But because we have a collaborative approach, our system is incredibly efficient. 

“Programs like these are not possible without collaboration,” added Eddy. “Skiing and snowboarding are expensive. They’re action sports. There’s a lot of planning and programming that goes into planning to cover insurance and make sure it’s safe. It takes so many different organizations to make it happen intentionally and successfully. It’s not like we sign them up, send them out there, and say good luck. We want to be more strategic about It.” 

At the end of the day, each involved organization hopes to achieve the same thing – to offer opportunities to kids and families that otherwise may not choose to ski or snowboard. Collective organizational effort is not about forcing children to like either sport, it’s about creating the space for families to access snow sports if they so desire and feel safe while doing so. 

“At Park City Community Foundation, we strive to create a more inclusive and equitable community and I think this is a great example of understanding not all kids have the same access to opportunities and really working together to make opportunities happen,” said MacCarthy. 

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