SheJumps is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the participation of females and youth in outdoor activities. The organization was founded in 2007 by Lynsey Dyer, Vanessa Pierce, and Claire Smallwood. Since its conception, SheJumps programs have evolved into one of the leading resources for outdoor education and participation for females in the United States. There are now seven regions in North America with SheJumps programs. Starting with the founders’ own passions as skiers and outdoor enthusiasts (and also women) the programs reflect a curriculum that utilizes the outdoors to learn life lessons that impact and inspire the participants.
The Explore Fund Grant was initially awarded to SheJumps in 2010 and the funding was used to support the initial and most-successful program to-date that SheJumps hosts: (S)heJumps into the Canyon is a youth initiative event where passionate local skiers are able to connect and mentor teens from local Boys & Girls Clubs in Salt Lake City. The vision for the program was sparked by co-founder and current Executive Director Claire Smallwood, who participated in a similar subsidized skiing program in her hometown of Santa Fe, New Mexico: “Without the skiing program in elementary school, I would never have had the opportunity to fall in love with skiing and the outdoors as I did. It was not so much the adventure or the sport that intrigued me, but the sense of community that made me feel alive and connected.” Drawing upon this experience, Smallwood and the organization spearheaded a youth initiative in Utah to specifically work with under-privileged teens from Salt Lake City Boys & Girls clubs. The goal was to offer them an opportunity to explore the mountains that they live in, but rarely have the opportunity to truly experience. This program was designed to change all of that.
Leading up to the event, which takes place over the course of four (4) Saturdays in March annually, volunteers work with the teens to develop some sense of skiing strength through several “dryland” training sessions at the Boys & Girls club locations. During this time, the entirely volunteer-run team is able to give the participants some basic level of strength awareness for the muscle groups associated with skiing, fit the participants with outerwear, share stories, videos, and photos of skiing in all its forms and levels. SheJumps invests time in the participants prior to the program to ensure their commitment, and also to help them get the most out of the experience. SheJumps works to make sure the teens feel comfortable with their volunteer coaches. Additionally, the Boys & Girls club staff also participates in the program for free. The program always includes “skiing cheap” tips to show the teens and their families all of the various resources that exist locally to support youth skiing.
The Explore Fund grant in this event is used to supplement rental fees, lift tickets for volunteers, lunch, snacks, transportation, and insurance for the participants. A daily rate of about $50 is needed per participant, but with local support and the funds from The North Face, SheJumps has been able to continue this program for 7 years.