Youth Sports Alliance helps students ‘gear up’
January 7, 2014
The Youth Sports Alliance’s Get Out & Play program, a partnership with the elementary schools in Park City, gives local children a chance to ski, snowboard and ice skate without breaking the bank. It is a program that director Kerry Morgan is proud to announce has been modified to help children even more this year by also providing them with the proper outerwear to enjoy on-mountain activities.
"When I started this program eight years ago, one of the most heartbreaking things to see was these children getting scholarships and free lessons but going out on the mountain in jeans and sweatshirts," Morgan said.
Last year, she said a fifth-grade girl was embarrassed and hid the fact that she had no mittens or gloves by simply wrapping her sweatshirt sleeves around her hands. After spending the day in sub-zero temperatures, the girl’s hands were cold and red. That inspired Morgan to find a way to make sure the children in the program went out onto the mountain with appropriate outerwear.
Children from throughout the Park City School District, including Weilenmann School of Discovery, apply for scholarships to participate in the Get Out & Play program. The program normally costs around $200 for a five-week program, and scholarship recipients pay only $50. The equipment is provided by the resorts and local rental shops, Morgan said, and they ask the community for donations as well.
Morgan said once all the scholarship applications are in, the Youth Sports Alliance works with Park City Municipal to fund the requests. She said Vail Resorts also helped this year by encouraging the Alliance to apply for an Echo grant, which they ended up being awarded. The help from Park City Municipal and Vail Resorts helped fund 150 student scholarships this year.
"We also received a grant from the Park City Community Foundation, which helped match us up with a private donor," Morgan said. "The donor was generous enough to sponsor $3,000 for new helmets for the students who received scholarships."
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Morgan said she has made it her mission to find generous community members to donate jackets, gloves, goggles and hats, anything that would help make a child’s experience on the mountain warmer and more enjoyable. She and the Youth Sports Alliance were able to find enough outerwear and gear for all of the scholarship students and will be delivering the clothing at McPolin Elementary School Tuesday night.
"It is such a great thing to not only give out all of these scholarships to the kids but to see them come in and pick out their new gear and really feeling like they are outfitted and ready to go, something some kids take for granted," Morgan said. "For these children, it’s almost like having Christmas again."
The looks on their faces when they get their new gear and the joy they will get out of being warm and participating in activities on the mountain is what Morgan is most looking forward to. She said she is also grateful to the volunteer base that helps to make the program possible.
Parent volunteers from each school, the Latinos in Action at Park City High School, the Treasure Mountain Junior High School Leadership Club and other "amazing Latino liaisons" from the elementary schools that work with teachers and counselors will be helping to hand out the gear.
"The children are so grateful and the community is so generous. These kids truly walk out ready and geared up for the program, and that’s what I love to see," Morgan said. "The program itself is wonderful, but putting kids in the right gear is such a great community effort, and Tuesday night will be amazing."
While all of the scholarships available have already been awarded this year, parents or families interested in their children participating next year can find more information on how to apply for a scholarship on the program’s official website, http://www.ysapc.org .