The coming months will be a lot of fun at Einstein Charter School.
To start the new year off right, every 6th, 7th and 8th grader is going to learn how to ski and snowboard – without ever leaving the school gym.
Einstein Charter School is in Village de l’Est, Louisiana. The school was founded in 2006 after Hurricane Katrina.
As you might suspect, there isn’t a lot of natural snow in Village de l’Est. The last measurable snow to fall in New Orleans was on Christmas in 2004 (good timing!).
Still, for what they lack in snow, the middle schoolers at Einstein Charter School will make up in spirit, as they learn the fundamentals of a new sport.
By the time these two days of fun and instruction are over these kids won’t just be kids. They’ll be SnowKidz.
Bringing Children to the Snow
SnowKidz is an initiative of FIS, best known as the governing body of world snowsports competition. And while World Cup competition in numerous disciplines is an important part of their work, an important part of the FIS mission is to grow participation in snowsports. In 2007 FIS established Bring Children to the Snow, to do just that.
“The thought behind this initiative was that if kids can be introduced to snowsports in a fun, positive and affordable way, the snowsports industry as a whole will have a brighter future and more kids will have healthy outlets for activity during the winter” explains FIS President Gian Franco Kasper.
SnowKidz launched in 2009, followed by World Snow Day in 2012. Both of these programs provide technical assistance to those planning events that will (you guessed it!) bring children to the snow. FIS doesn’t sponsor or sanction these events, but they do help publicize them. Even more importantly, they provide event toolkits, expertise, case studies and examples of best practices to help organizers make their events as fun and successful as possible.
While World Snow Day events are limited to World Snow Day (upcoming on January 15, 2017), SnowKidz events can take place on any day, which is great for people in the Southern Hemisphere as it allows them to participate during their winter.
Events have been held on mountains, in cities and, as in the case of Einstein Charter School, in gymnasiums. There is no limit to where events can he held or what activities are included, so long as they involve snow and kids.
A World Wide Movement
There is a ticker on the SnowKidz website that reads “1,688 Events Organized.” That’s how many events have taken place is 42 countries since the program began. And that doesn’t include events in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Lesotho, Argentina and Peru.
World Snow Day is equally impressive with over 500 events planned in 38 countries. Events range the gamut from small to large, taking place in cities and at resorts. Some are even coordinated across an entire country.
One such event, Norway’s Apen Bakke, or Open Day, is a free day of skiing, not just for kids, but for everyone at 103 Norwegian ski areas. Norwegian resorts have done this for three years and it’s been massively successful. Resorts in Sweden and Finland are also providing free skiing on World Snow Day now.
Another proven program is in Japan where every child 12 and under receives free lift tickets throughout the season at 12 ski areas.
”The Prince Hotels, who lead this initiative, have reported that this move is actually a big gain. There are more participants at their resorts using a wide variety of their services, not just the lifts,” commented Gian Franco Kasper.
For its size, the United States doesn’t yet have a lot of participation. This winter, just three SnowKidz events and four World Snow Day events are planned. In part, this is because World Snow Day falls on Martin Luther King weekend, one of the busiest snowsports weekends of the year.
This doesn’t mean good things aren’t happening in the US. Just one week prior to World Snow Day, Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month will be sponsoring a similar initiative, the World’s Largest Ski and Snowboard Lesson.
Canada, on the other hand, is fully on board. Ski Canada recently affiliated with SnowKidz to promote their national 4th and 5th grade snowpass and to coordinate on safety programs with their national ski patrol.
How You Can Bring Children to the Snow
- Use the World Snow Day and SnowKidz websites to find events. Both websites have interactive maps and event listings. Click on the map or click on a national flag to see what’s happening in your country.
- Organize an Event. World Snow Day and SnowKidz events can be created by anyone – a resort, a state association, a national association, a ski club, a school, a tourism organization, a nonprofit or a boys/girls club. FIS collects data on what works and what doesn’t work and they will share this information, plus their comprehensive toolkit with you for free. You don’t have to join anything or pay any dues. You can even get personalized support and technical assistance from FIS staff. FIS awards monetary prizes to the most innovative and effective events each year. Last year, winners were from Finland, Sweden and the US.
- Learn More About Snowsports for Kids. FIS has a wealth of information on their SnowKidz and World Snow Day websites. Read about topics related to youth sports and family skiing. Watch video testimonials from some of the world’s top winter athletes. They even have a searchable feature providing lift ticket pricing for kids at most resorts in the world, including the US and Canada.
- On January 8, Help Set a Record for the World’s Largest Ski Lesson, December 30, 2015.
- The Ski Racing World is Coming to Vail. You Should Come, Too. January 14, 2015.
- It’s Good to Be Austrian at the Alpine World Ski Championships, February 9, 2015.
- The World Cup Downhill That Wasn’t, December 7, 2010.
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