One Million Kids in 10 Years

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Recreation Outdoor Initiative Unveiled at Denver's Snow Show


January 30, 2010 (DENVER, COLO) – Leaders in the winter sports industry gathered with politicians and representatives from outdoor recreation groups to announce a bold initiative to get 100,000 kids involved in outdoor programs each year for the next 10 years.

The Recreation Outdoor Initiative (ROI) comes on the heels of First Lady Michelle Obama's recently-formed campaign to combat childhood obesity, and featured a similar anti-couch appeal. Susan Alden, who represented the U.S. Forest Service, said kids today spend less time outdoors than any previous generation.

"A study came out recently that showed kids aged two to five are watching 32 hours of TV a week," she said, adding, "That's a full-time job. Kids six to 18 are watching 28 hours of TV a week on average, and the only reason it's not higher is school gets in the way."

More than 100 students from the Denver area attended the event, held in conjunction with the Snowsports Industries America trade show, before heading to the mountains to spend the afternoon skiing and snowboarding. The event also served as a capstone for SIA's Learn a Snowsport Month.

David Ingemie, President of Snowsports Industries America, noted that member organizations of ROI currently bring 50,000 kids to the mountains every year, and said the initiative "shows what can happen when industry leaders step up and decide to make a meaningful change."

"ROI is an apt name for the initiative because by taking steps today, we can help ensure a return on our investment by making a connection with the next generation," he said.

Intrawest CEO Bill Jensen said he was pleased to take part in ROI because it offered an opportunity to connect with the next generation of skiers and riders, and brings together groups with a variety of interests.

"It demonstrates a firm commitment by resorts, manufacturers, retailers, government agencies and nonprofits to work together to achieve a common goal: To create a new, healthier generation that has a passion for sports and the outdoors," he said.

Colorado State Senator Dan Gibbs engaged the kids in attendance, asking who skis, who snowboards, and who telemarks.

"No, no. I don't want to see your hands, I want to hear you," Gibbs said, eliciting a bevy of cheers from the students.

Gibbs introduced the keynote speaker, Congressman Ed Perlmutter, by noting he "not only fights for us in Washington D.C., but is also a rippin' skier," and mentioned they had the opportunity to ski the back bowls of Vail, before recognizing Perlmutter's work in health and wellness committees in Congress.

Perlmutter, who comes from a family of skiers, joked that his daughters turned to snowboarding, and he wasn't sure where he'd gone wrong as a parent, which brought a number of laughs. His enthusiasm for the sport was evident.

"It's a great way to be outside, to be excited and to enjoy time with your family friends," he said. "You can't go faster and you can't go higher than what you can do on skis and snowboards. It's exciting. It's energizing. It's the kind of thing where you really feel in touch with yourself and your athleticism and with the outdoors."

Representatives from ROI expect other organizations to join the burgeoning movement to help ensure the initiative meets its goal of introducing one million kids to outdoor and winter sports by 2020.