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Are winter sports elitist? How can they become more inclusive - a case study of Snow-Camp?

Copyrights: Snow-Camp

Are winter sports elitist? How can they become more inclusive - a case study of Snow-Camp?

The work of a UK non-profit shows that barriers to participation in winter sports can be torn down.

Weather conditions and geographical locations are some of the most important factors for practising snow sports. Moreover, additional equipment and specific infrastructure, required to ensure safety and performance, directly increase the participation costs. It is no wonder that winter sports are often perceived as elitist.

While some winter sports disciplines, such as ice skating, ice hockey, sledging or curling, are still fairly accessible, skiing and snowboarding are arguably the most expensive sports disciplines practised during this season.

Does this mean that people coming from less privileged families, who live far away from mountains, will never have the chance to discover the thrill of skiing or snowboarding? The UK-based charity Snow-Camp has shown that these participation barriers can be successfully torn down. For 15 years the charity has used snow sports to support and empower young people living in deprived inner-city areas. Many of these youngsters have experienced difficult situations from a very young age, which caused them to drop out of school, join local gangs or lose interest in building their future.

Snow-Camp programmes enable young people to discover snow sports and combines them with youth work and vocational training to challenge and transform their lives. By taking up sports disciplines that were out of reach for these teenagers, they gained confidence and motivation to set up goals for their future and dream bigger.

Travels abroad broaden their horizons and open up their minds, teach them how to adapt to new circumstances and create valuable friendships with people coming from different cultures.

Finally, acquiring new life skills and qualifications enabled these teenagers not only to find employment they truly enjoy, but also helped them overcome fear, deal with peer pressure, learn how to lead and take responsibility for others.

Snow-Camp offers much more than learning how to ski or snowboard and get an instructor’s qualification. The charity together with over 2,500 disadvantaged youngsters proved that snow sports should not be perceived as elitist and that people from different backgrounds can enjoy it. Sliding down a mountain is just the beginning of their life-changing journey, where they will progress and ultimately transform into ambitious young people with new goals in life, backed by a community in which they feel welcome, and where they can share what they have learned with newcomers, who struggle with life as much as them, before mountains affected all their senses for the better.


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Marianna Sikorowska


Tuesday, February 20, 2018 - 12:15