Grantee Highlight: Kids to Slopes 2020 A day on the slopes creates an opportunity to build self confidence.

Kids to Slopes 2020 was a project put together through Seward PTA and Seward Middle School to provide an opportunity for middle school students to have a day of skiing at Alyeska. This project was funded in 2019 and implemented in January of 2020 in the days before COVID restrictions. Each student could ski or board at Alyeska for two full days, and each day included a two-hour lesson.

Kids to Slopes is an example of the power of bringing together many entities to benefit the community. Seward Community Foundation provided $6,225 in funding coupled with funding from Seward Prevention Coalition and several businesses. In addition, over 30 volunteers assisted in the project, and the students hosted a fun run to put another $4,000 toward the project. To top it off, community members and out-of-state friends personally sponsored a boarder/skier. Truly the community came together to provide this opportunity for the students. As a result, 126 middle school students got to experience a day on the slopes….many of who had previously never put boards or skis to snow. Judging by many of the students’ post-activity comm-

ents, the day was a success: “It was great. Before, I was afraid to ski with my family and older sisters, but now I know I can do as well. I can go all the way to the top!” Another said, “I thought it was a great trip for the whole school. Anyone who never went skiing or snowboarding in their life got the opportunity to.”

The whole project was designed to get the kids out on the white stuff for a fun day and build skills and confidence in themselves. Middle school is a pivotal time in a child’s life. The sponsors knew that it is a prime time to expose students to various experiences that have lifelong positive effects. And parents couldn’t have agreed more. “My son wasn’t too excited about going but after he was begging to go back. He loved it and plans on skiing and snowboarding next year.”

Amy Hankins worked with Jenn Desermia and Myla Liljemark (along with many, many volunteers, including school staff, parents, and friends of the program) to create this experience for the students. Amy reports that they’d hoped to replicate the experience this winter but will need to wait until COVID restrictions are relaxed. It is hoped to continue this program with the generous support from the Seward community and businesses in future years.

Seward Community Foundation proudly supported this program with $2,900 from discretionary funds and a $3,325 major grant.