Teaching ‘Fun’damentals With Chill

“[Chill is] a learn-to-ride board sports program for the under privileged, at-risk youth,” says SLC Chill Coordinator Joe Rizzo. The program, which originated in Burlington, Vermont in ‘96, has become an international activity. Now, based in 14 locations worldwide, it’s a way to reach less fortunate kids and allow them to enjoy the mountain life. Now in its sixth year in Utah, Chill serves over a hundred youth who without this opportunity would never get to experience snowboarding.

With the support of Burton Snowboards, local sponsors and dozens of volunteers work with children to teach them life lessons through the vehicle of snowboarding. These “lessons” include patience, persistence, responsibility, courage, integrity, and pride. By taking these kids outside of their group homes, juvenile courts or after school programs and guiding them into learning something new, Chill volunteers are able to communicate these lessons into the snowboarding experience. “[We] teach the kids how to fall and get back up,” explained Nick Diachun, Director of Volunteers. By working in smaller groups and offering lessons, the kids learn that snowboarding, like anything else in life, is going to have its ups and downs, and no matter what you should keep working at it in order to succeed –– a basic lesson that they might not have learned otherwise.

As far as volunteering for the program goes, Chill will be on hand at several events this year, already having been at the Burton premiere of It’s Always Snowing Somewhere as well as this year’s annual Teaching ‘Fun’damentals with SLUG Games on January 10th at Brighton in order to promote the program. This year Chill is looking for a more community-based program, working with locals and local companies to make this experience even better than the years before. “It’s a great opportunity for snowboarders to give back to a sport that has given us so much,” says Rizzo. Volunteering for the program brings you the ability to reflect upon your own first days at the mountain and share those moments with kids, some who have never been. In order to get the most out of the experience, Chill would ask that, if you are interested in becoming a volunteer, you be available at least one day a week for the entire six weeks, in order to bond with the students. “We find that consistency helps lure the kids out of their shells quite a bit,” says Diachun. However, if you can only make it a few times, they will certainly not turn you away, as they are always looking for volunteers. Those of you looking for the opportunity to participate in or volunteer for Chill, ask your agency to contact Nick Diachun at nick@diachun.com or Joe Rizzo at jrizzoslchill08@ gmail.com. Chill will be starting lessons in January at Brighton Resort.

Every season, Chill holds an after-party for all participants and volunteers. Two lucky kids from each location will be chosen to attend the US Open, snowboarding’s most prestigious contest event. Look for the program to expand into the skate and surf market as well in the next year if you live outside of Utah. To learn more, visit chill.org