September, 22 2017

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New York Adults 'Stoked' About Mentoring At-Risk Youth

Steve Larosiliere of New York was snowboarding in Vancouver three years ago when he had a vision of a program that matches at-risk youth with adult mentors through snowboarding, surfing, and skateboarding.

"I thought: Wouldn't it be great if the kids I was working with got to see what I see?" Mr. Larosiliere said. "How can I get them to see something outside their neighborhoods?"

How This Program for Troubled Teens Began

Mr. Larosiliere launched Stoked Mentoring in January 2005 with nine mentoring pairs. This year, more than 80 pairs hit the slopes, waves, and streets through programs in New York and Los Angeles. Tonight, Stoked Mentoring hosts its first awards dinner at Room Service, where they will honor designer Marc Ecko, who donates office space and gear to Stoked, and skateboarder Danny Way.

How the At-Risk Youth Program Works

Participating students are between 13 and 18 and attend area high schools. Ideally, each youth/ mentor pair completes eight weeks of snowboarding at Belleayre Mountain in upstate New York, six weeks of surfing on Rockaway Beach, and five weeks of skateboarding in parks around the city, meeting for four hours on Saturdays.

At Stoked, the mentor and the youth learn the sports together. Mentor Jason Page, 33, had never snowboarded before he started the program in January, and his "mentee," Chris Diaz, 16, had only been once. They will receive the Mentoring Pair of the Year Award at tonight's dinner, awarded to the team for whom the program had the most impact and where a big change was seen in both the youth and the mentor.

Snapshot of an Early Success

"The first day of snow was really hard and I kept complaining," Chris said. Mr. Page "pushed me, he kept telling me to turn. He said, 'I can't is not a word.'"

As the weeks went on and the pair advanced to bigger hills, Chris started pushing Mr. Page: "Catch up already!"

"I never had confidence before Stoked," Chris said. He also said the program has taught him that people are "really generous. And that in order to get something, you have to give something."

Mr. Page said mentoring has made him think more about the way he uses his time and energy and that he has learned to see himself as a role model.

"I want him to think I'm cool," Mr. Page said. "But I'm also his mentor. Sometimes I have to say, 'Hey, you're really acting out today.'"

The two stay in touch even when the program isn't in session. It was a challenge at first, Mr. Page said, but they solidified their relationship outside the program.

"Whether we continue in the program or not, I consider him a friend," Mr. Page said. "And I think he considers me a friend, too."


Related Articles:
Illinois Man Uses Custom Car Shop to Help Troubled Teens 11/9/07
Two Illinois Residential Treatment Programs to Close 11/2/07
Changing Behavior in Teens 11/02/07
North Dakota Heartview Again Offers Residential Treatment 10/31/07
New Florida Troubled Youth Mission 10/30/07
Illinois Juvenile Court Needs Help 10/28/07
'Price of Privilege' Too High for Teens 10/26/07
Illinois Teen Sentenced to Boot Camp 10/26/07
Florida Boot Camp Verdict Protested 10/23/07
New York Showcases New Program to Help Troubled Youth 10/23/07


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