Taking Kids from City Streets to Mountain Peaks.

By Wendy Clinch •  Updated: 10/29/13 •  4 min read

There’s this:

New York

Then there’s this:


It’s no secret which one I prefer.

But when you think about it, isn’t it a matter of exposure? If my dad hadn’t taken me skiing as a kid, it’s possible I never would’ve discovered skiing at all and my life would’ve been entirely different. I probably wouldn’t love snow and winter as much as I do, I probably wouldn’t live in Vermont, and I certainly wouldn’t have started TheSkiDiva.com.

For a lot of people, skiing is entirely off their radar. Either they don’t have a family member or a friend to get them involved, or it’s so removed from their lives that it doesn’t even register. And while skiing may not affect everyone as profoundly as it did me, exposure to the sport does have its benefits. It’s a way to enjoy the outdoors in the winter, connect with mountains, and stay physically fit. Plus it’s just plain fun.

And that’s where the Peaks Project comes in. The Peaks Project is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to introduce skiing and snowboarding to New York City kids who might not otherwise get on the mountain.

I recently spoke with the organization’s CEO, Molly Tarlofsky, to find out more about what it’s about:

SD: Tell me more about the Peaks Project. What is it? And what are your goals?
MT: We’re a nonprofit that aims to teach underprivileged New York City kids how to ski and snowboard. For these kids, skiing just isn’t an option. It’s expensive, and the nearest ski areas are just too far away. We get them the equipment, lessons, and transportation they need to start skiing. But skiing’s just part of it. We focus on personal growth and camaraderie, and there’s an environmental aspect to it, too.

SD: How’d the Peaks Project begin?
MT: I originally got the idea  while I was out in Seattle in 2011. I was working in the action sports industry and many of my colleagues were participating in West Coast programs that helped kids get involved in extreme sports. Learning about these programs was truly inspirational. I’d been skiing since I was four and I thought it’d be great to have something similar for kids in New York who’d never had the chance to try skiing or snowboarding. I was still in college, so I wrote the business plan as my senior thesis, and it sort of took off from there. After graduation, I started building the basics. We’re hoping to launch it in 2014.

SD: So tell me about the kids.
MT: We’ll be working with Children of Promise,  an organization that works with kids who have incarcerated parents. There’ll be twelve kids in our program, ages 8 to 18. A lot of them have never been outside of NYC, so this will be a great opportunity for them to try a new sport, see what’s out there, and have some entirely new experiences. We’ll be working with them before the season starts to explain what skiing and snowboarding are and share our own experiences. Then once a week — every Sunday for ten weeks — we’ll take them to Camelback Resort in the Poconos [PA].  It’ll be great to see how they improve, from one week to the next.

SD: How are you funding all this?
MT: We’ve started a crowdsourcing campaign on indiegogo.com with the goal of raising  $15,000 by November 14. There are goodies for different levels of contributions, so we’re hoping a lot of people who hear about this will realize what a great idea it is and be motivated to donate.

We also have some great corporate partners: Saga Outerwear, SPY Optic,  Grenade Gloves, OvrRide, and Mountain Riders Alliance. Their support has been amazing, and we’re excited that they’ve decided to work with us.

SD: How do you envision the future for The Peaks Project?
MT: I’d eventually like to expand The Peaks Project to every major city across the US.  And I’d  like to add more students every year. Having a network of programs, all with the mission of getting kids out on the hill, would be a great success.



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