It was my last run of the day (in Whistler) on my last day and I thought, ‘My Mentee should see this,’ then the next thought was, ‘I should start a snowboard mentoring program.’
–Steve Larosiliere, Founder
I was thinking, if he saw these mountains he would lose his mind! You see my mentee was a 17 year old kid from the Bronx who had never left his neighborhood, never been outside the city. In fact we never really left the group home where we would meet weekly. I had been a strong advocate for mentoring for years prior since I worked for Mentoring USA as a Recruitment Manager. The thing is that most mentoring programs do traditional (boring) activities like eat pizza, go to the movies, sit at a table and do homework. There were no programs that took kids out of their comfort zones. I originally thought it would be great if the mentor and mentee learn the sport together so they can see each other’s strengths weaknesses, and share the joy and thrill of snowboarding together. It wasn’t enough just to learn snowboarding, but there were actual life skills that I learned as a snowboarder that I wanted to pass on to my mentee. Skills such as goal setting, overcoming obstacles, and how to think and dream big for your future. As soon as I came up with the idea, I was possessed and determined to make “Snow Mentor” happen. After coming up with a mini plan, I quit my job, ended a relationship, sold my possessions and moved in with my family. I begged all my friends, family, contacted everyone I knew to help me. I even contacted brands with no success. Luckily, I received a donation of snowboards and bindings that I was able to sell on eBay and Craigslist. Meanwhile I was recruiting kids, mentors, and managed to find a fiscal sponsor. I was also planning a fundraiser during that time. That’s when I thought I needed help and reached out to Sal Masekela.
Getting Sal Involved
I didn’t know Sal. I only knew him as the guy who got everyone excited about the X Games. So I googled him, found a phone number on a press release and got his agent’s phone number. I called his agent once a week for 2 months until Sal called me back. What made me call him was that I knew that this project was something he had to be involved in. As a African American that is the face of action sports, I knew somehow that his legacy would be something that introduced minority youth to this lifestyle. On that initial phone call, I expressed that as a young man of Haitian descent, I loved growing up skateboarding in my hometown of Queens Village, New York. I felt really connected to board sports and I felt my true passion in life was snowboarding. As I spoke for quite while, he remained silent. When I stopped speaking, the first thing he told me that he was half Haitian and Half South African and he too was affected by the action sports lifestyle. He too was thinking of a way to introduce the lifestyle and culture to inner city and minority youth because it gave him so much in life. So he agreed to jump on board and help out. He then asked what was next. I then told him I bought a ticket to Los Angeles and was flying there the next day. It was there that we conceived of a larger program that encompassed all board sports to change the lives of young people in this country.
Our mission is to promote personal development, academic achievement, and healthy living to under-served youth through action sports culture.
To empower all youth with the tools and resources to succeed in the future.
Success – achievement and goal setting
Teamwork – collaboration
Openness – accessibility to youth, mentors, community, and our sponsors
Kudos – positive feedback, rewards, and encouragement
Energy – engaging, relevant, and challenging activities rooted in action sports
Determination – confidence and ambition to deliver opportunities to our youth