Former California resident Schone Malliet is on a mission to teach children about the benefits of winter sports through the Elev8 program. Malliet is CEO of the National Winter Activity Center, which is based in Vernon, N.J.
According to Malliet, a retired Marine pilot who is originally from the South Bronx, the center was created in 2014. Its goal is to improve the lives of children through winter activity.
The Center served 180 children in its first year of operation and the numbers have been steadily rising. Last year, the center served about 1,400 children and it’s projected to serve 10,000 children by 2022.
Malliet became a ski fan after becoming part of 4 Seasons West (4SW), a California-based Black skiing group. And after originally disliking the sport, he came to love it. He also realized it could be an important way of helping children keep fit during the cold season.
“The opportunities are life-changing, but also it’s an important way to be healthy in the winter,” he said.
The center is based in the New York tri-state area, allowing the Elev8 program to reach children of many different ethnic, socio-economic and geographic backgrounds. In addition to serving youth within the region, the center received participants from the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, Detroit, Mich. and Riverside Military Academy, Gainesville, Ga. Elev8 at the National Winter Activity Center partners with youth-serving organizations such as YMCAs, schools, churches and Boys & Girls Clubs. The fee to attend Elev8 at the center is often reduced or eliminated through the referring organization.
The center is based in the New York area and so many of the children who participate in the program are from minority groups. (Thirty-five percent of the students in the program are African American.)
The children who attend the center go through a six-session course, which takes them from beginner to competent skier. They are trained in skiing, snowboarding and cross-country skiing.
According to Malliet, training children to become competent skiers is easier than adults.
“It’s brand new to them, their minds are brand new,” he said.
The number of children participating in the center is growing steadily and the children who have participated in the program are also enthusiastic about it.
“The kids are excited about being outside and developing new skills,” said Malliet.
“Skiing is fun, but it’s something you normally don’t do in New Jersey,” said a participant in the program, according to an Associated Press report.
Their parents are also enthused about the program.