Growing up in the Bronx, Schone Malliet, was a self-described “asphalt kid.” To state the obvious, snow sports were not on his radar. After becoming a Marine Corps pilot, Malliet flew into Utah and found himself meeting friends in Park City. There, Malliet tried skiing and without the right clothing, the right gear and without any instruction it was a terrible experience. “I was cold, miserable, and falling down a lot. I knew I’d never do that again,” he shares.
But then against all of his expectations, he fell in love with snowsports. His was in large part thanks to a connection with National Brotherhood of Skiers (NBS) which is the largest organized African American ski club in the United States. As Malliet puts it, “Socializing the process of learning from never-ever to being good at it” made all the difference.
Not content to remain a recreational skier, Malliet became increasingly involved in competition which eventually lead him to hooking up with US Ski and Snowboard as coach and an official. But what really captured Malliet’s imagination was developing best practices for getting kids – and in particular city kids like him — outdoors, active, and engaged on snow. The result of Malliet’s efforts is a model initiative that has gained national and international attention, including a 3rd place in the FIS SnowKidz Awards which recognize the Worlds Best events and actions to bring children to the snow.
Winter4Kids is a nonprofit that changes lives through winter activities. Students come from nearby communities in New Jersey and New York, and as from far away as Detroit, Michigan and the state of Georgia.
Operationally, Winter4Kids partners with schools, churches and youth-serving organizations to bring students to its private ski area in New Jersey. Here, the nonprofit provides kids with coaching, mentoring, experiential learning, social and emotional support, and healthy meals.
Based on a 6-session model, children spend two sessions each on alpine skiing, nordic skiing, and snowboarding. Then they choose one discipline to master and that becomes their focus moving forward into subsequent years.
Since the program’s inception, nearly 9,000 children have participated and 62% of kids who can come back, do. Of these, 50% will likely become lifetime enthusiasts. “One of the keys to increasing diversity in snow sports is to increase access. Winter4Kids has done just that.” said FIS Bring Children to the Snow Coordinator Andrew Cholinski.