Sometimes it seems that snowboarding still bares the stigma of being mostly for teenagers who are looking for just another way to rebel against mom and dad, and society in general. A lot of these stereotypes are a carry-over from the days when snowboarders were first allowed on ski areas and were not generally accepted by the rank and file. As a result, the young pioneers were only too happy to oblige the local clientele, confirming their worst suspicions.
But much has changed since then. Snowboarding has matured (lol) and there are many examples where the snowboarding community is making a positive impact on this world. Snowboarders young and old are involved in snowboarding outreach aimed at improving the lives of underprivileged kids, the disabled, medical research, backcountry safety, conservation, and the fight against global warming among other things.
Here’s a brief run-down of just a few of the great things snowboarders are doing to make this world a better place to shred.
Jeremy Jones’ Protect Our Winters (POW) foundation has lobbied Congress to create legislation that would begin to mitigate the effects of global climate change. POW is not just a lobbying group, it is an organization of snowboarders from all over world who guide the industry towards using more sustainable materials in their products. They actively support initiatives focused on improving the quality of life in mountain regions and work with local municipalities in variety of areas aimed at maintaining a healthy eco-system that benefits everyone.
Jeremy is a legend in the snowboard community. He’s been around for a long time slaying the biggest mountains on the planet. His last two films, Deeper and Further, show us mortals what can be done when you ditch the helicopters and strap on the splitboard to get to areas no one else has ever been. It is unbelievable.
Jamie Anderson and Leanne Pelosi are the top women snowboarders in the U.S. Both have won countless contests and been given many awards for their amazing skills. This year they got together and decided to create a facebook initiative to benefit kids that could not afford snowboarding gear. It’s called Give Back with Love and it draws in professional snowboarders from all over the world who donate their gear and time to help less fortunate snowboarders.
Pelosi has also started the Zero Ceiling Society of Canadathat teaches at-risk kids about snowboarding in the backcountry. Both women have also organized groups that help feed the hungry in the Vancouver and Lake Tahoe areas.
So what’s it like to be a part of all this? Pelosi says, It’s been amazing to see so many people want to help others. … We have had so many emails from people organizing their own drives in their communities: Calgary, San Diego, Seattle, Oregon. People who don’t even really know each other … are getting together to give back. It’s nice to have something to bring the community together.
Drink Water is the brainchild of Austin Smith and Bryan Fox- two incredibly talented snowboarders that dominate the upper echelon of the sport’s best riders.
They created Drink Water after witnessing “energy drink” companies saturate the snowboarding market with their questionable products. We are talking about companies like Red Bull, Monster, and Rock Star that have infiltrated every corner of the action sports industry. One day they decided enough was enough. Enough of what you ask?
Well it has to do with what’s being marketed to the kids. Essentially these “energy” drinks contain toxic mix of caffeine, sodium, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and even some mystery chemicals about which little is known. The advertising for these products is so aggressive and misleading it’s almost bizarre in how they get away with it.
Smith and Fox have one clear message- you will be a much better snowboarder and healthier person by drinking lots of clean water. You’re teeth, guts and wallet will feel better too.
Josh Dirksen is a busy guy. In addition to running the Derby he also works with Jones on POW and with Smith and Fox on Drink Water. Dirksen started the Dirksen Derby six years ago on Mount Bachelor in order to raise money to help his friend Tyler Eklund who was paralyzed while competing at a national snowboard contest in 2007. Every year top snowboarders from around the world come to Mount Hood to participate. Everyone from the great Terje Haakonsen to present day heroes like Austin Smith raise thousands of dollars to help pay medical expenses for snowboarders who have been injured and to cultivate a snowboarding community based on outreach and benevolence.
So these are just few examples of snowboarding outreach programs that are making this world a better place to shred…. I feel better already.