While DeKalb County waited for a predicted icy weather event that never materialized, approximately 60 Knollwood Elementary students traveled to North Carolina to go skiing for the first time.
The students, joined by approximately 30 parents, school leaders and ski club volunteers, went skiing Jan. 26 at the Cataloochee Ski Resort in Maggie Valley, N. C. The trip was part of the 2013 Connecting Our Kids To The Slopes program sponsored by the Southern Snow Seekers Ski Club of Atlanta.
âIt was a wonderful time. We really enjoyed it,â said LaTonya Cash, who went on the trip with her husband, Jabarri Walker, and their 10-year-old son Jabarri Jr. âWe fell a lot and we got back up. We really enjoyed it.
âItâs something that we will probably be doing again,â said Cash, who has been telling her colleagues about the trip. âI told them they need to go and take the kids.â
This was the second time Knollwood has taken students and parentsâall first-time skiersâon the trip, said Dr. Dwayne Pettus, assistant principal at Knollwood Elementary, located in unincorporated Decatur.
âWhen you think about a Black neighborhood, itâs football and baseball, not skiing,â Pettus said.
The trip provides physical activity and exposure to new experiences for the students and parents, Pettus said.
âA lot of my kids have never been out of the state of Georgia,â Pettus said. âIt broadens their horizons.â
In its 30th year, the Southern Snow Seekers Ski Club (SSS) is a nonprofit organization that promotes skiing among Blacks. The group is a member of the National Brotherhood of Skiers and has a goal of introducing at least 50 new youth and adults to the sport of skiing annually.
âWhile our members and families and many other winter sports enthusiasts have been able to enjoy the slopes for years, we recognize that geography and cost are huge barriers to snow sports accessibility,â said Kimberly King, an SSS board member. âOur Connecting Our Kids To The Slopes program seeks to reward students for their accomplishments with a full day exposure-type experience that we hope will one day create an interest in snow sports.â
King said, âStudents and parents begin the day with anxiety and uncertainty about trying something new, a sport not practiced as widely in the South â when compared to the more popular football or basketball. Most have never been near a ski resort and have a limited knowledge of the sportâs history or accomplishments.
âBy the end of the day, students and parents are excited to have been introduced to a new experience that promotes health and fitness,â King said. âAt the dayâs end and without exception, no one wants to leave the resort.â
The trip was free for students and $40 for parents. Community sponsors for the trip include McDonaldâs at 4075 Memorial Drive, which provided breakfast, Kroger in Belvedere Plaza, which donated water and juice, and Harmon Brothers Bus Company, which offered discounts on bus transportation. The Cataloochee Ski Resort provided use of ski clothes during the trip. Students also received backpacks from the Learn To Ski & Snowboard Month, a national snow sports program to encourage new people to try skiing and snowboarding in the month of January.
âSSS is proud to be a conduit to connect school achievement with a rewarding experience,â King said. âIt is our hope to continue to make the program available to greater numbers of families in the future.â