This winter, youth from countries such as Nepal, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Yugoslavia are learning how to cross-country ski with Catamount Trail Association’s “Catamount Ski Cubs” program. CTA is piloting the free, after-school ski program in Burlington, with the goal of reaching children who would otherwise have little access or exposure to the sport of cross-country skiing. The groups will ski once a week into March, skiing in many of the beautiful parks and public spaces in Burlington. The participating programs are the Boys and Girls Club, Hunt Middle School, the Northgate Apartment Complex, The Sustainability Academy at Barnes along with various other youth oriented organizations and events.
“Cross-country skiing is an incredible winter sport that is easy to do right out your backdoor. In contrast to many other winter sports, cross country skiing is also incredibly affordable and is one of the best ways out there to get exercise,” says Jim Fredericks, Executive Director of the Catamount Trail who thought up the idea for the kids program last year. “Childhood obesity is a huge problem in our country, and it would be very sad if we saw that problem persist in a state like Vermont where we have a strong culture of sports and recreation.” The sponsors of this program are in agreement with Fredericks, “We are advocating for cross country skiing as a life-long sport, one that will lead to a healthy population of youth and adults. CTA's program dovetails nicely with MVP's KidPower program,” says MVP Health Care’s Rebecca Couture. MVP Health Care is a sponsor of the program along with Black Diamond Equipment, and Rossignol Ski Company. Grant support from the Vermont Department of Buildings and General Services Recreational Facilities Grant program and from several private foundations has made it possible for CTA to launch this new program.
Not all of the youth in CTA’s Catamount Ski Cubs program are New Americans, but the high percentage reflects the changing demographics of Burlington’s young people. Emily Wheeler, a VHCB AmeriCorps Member serving at CTA, is the coordinator for the program. A former ski racer at Burke Mountain Academy, Emily has been working with youth on issues of social justice and equity since graduating from Middlebury in 2007 and is excited to combine her passion for skiing with her commitment to the future of young people in Vermont. Catamount Trail Association is thrilled to be running a program that introduces both new and native Vermonters to an important part of our local winter culture and helps keep kids active and outside during the winter months. CTA hopes the program can expand to reach more children in winter seasons ahead.
The CTA is a member-supported, non-profit organization with the purpose of building, maintaining and conserving the Catamount Trail (CT), a 300-mile backcountry ski trail that extends the length of Vermont, from the Massachusetts border to Quebec.
© 2009 Catamount Trail Association