Aurora teens get taste of mountain life
BRECKENRIDGE – Aurora Central High School junior Josue Lara had never skied before this week, mainly because none of his friends at school is into the winter sport. For Magaly Mar, a freshman at the same high school, it was a lack of motivation that kept her off the slopes. Junior Nelson Archelus stayed off skis but for a handful times in his life because it was too much trouble to travel from his home in Aurora up to the mountains.It’s kids like these that former Aurora Public Schools teacher and publisher of Boulder-based LTeen Magazine Ayal Korczak hoped to reach when he planned a free day of skiing or snowboarding at Breckenridge on Monday.”I think there’s this myth that inner city kids or minority kids don’t like winter sports, don’t go outside. So I wanted to speculate that: You know what? You give them a day out here and they’ll love it just as much as anybody else,” Korczak said.He was right.After hours of turning and sometimes tumbling down the beginner slopes under Breckenridge’s Chair 7, the group of teens aged 15 to 18 all said they anticipated a second trip to the ski hill.”It’s a lot of fun,” said first-time snowboarder Ramon Lopez, a skateboarder who had always wanted to test his board skills on the snow, as the group lunched on the Bergenhof deck under a warm spring sun.The resort provided the teens with lift tickets, lessons and lunch at no cost through its diversity program, which is aimed at exposing snowsports to people who wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to experience them, said diversity program coordinator Laura Allen. The hope is that the kids or teens will pick up the sport in the future, she said.In the program’s second season this year, Vail Resorts’ Colorado mountains have hosted 400 kids through Snowboard Outreach Society, 400 kids through Alpino Mountain Sports Foundation, and Keystone and Breckenridge each saw about 350 visits on their own, Allen said.”We were turning people away,” Allen said. “…(The kids) seem to love it because they would never get this type of experience. I mean some of them, not necessarily this year, but last year one group that came up had never seen snow. They got out of the van and they were all touching the snow.”Korczak also hopes Monday’s taste of the mountains will convince the students to pursue snowsports on their own as a positive activity that can take the place of using drugs or joining gangs.Most of the teens are former students of Korczak’s from the five years he spent teaching at Aurora Middle School, or they write for his newly launched LTeen Magazine.The idea behind the primarily-English written glossy is to encourage literacy among Hispanic teens with content that interests them, he said. The latest issue contains a feature on low-rider cars, a profile on Mexican-born Denver Nuggets player Eduardo Najera, quizzes, styles for prom (modeled by teens Korczak knows) and tips for getting into college.The first issue debuted last fall, more than a year after Korczak walked into a 7-Eleven looking for a magazine article from an Hispanic teen magazine to hand out to his class the next day, and couldn’t find one.”That sparked the idea right there. I did the math in my head: Okay, here’s the fastest growing teen demographic in America, (and there’s) not a magazine for them, that’s weird,” he said.LTeen is currently the only teen magazine in circulation in the U.S. targeted at Hispanics, and Korczak has signed on subscribers in 40 states to date.Even with Latinos’ buying power expected to reach $900 billion this year, the market to Latino teens is still relatively untapped, said Juan Delaroca, who owns Equipo Roca, a Denver-based Latino marketing firm specializing in action sports.”A lot of companies just don’t realize that the youth demographic right now is predominantly on a multi-cultural level and heavily influenced by Latinos at that,” Delaroca said.Publications like LTeen can help educate teens on what they can do with their money and some of the opportunities available to them, such as skiing or snowboarding.”A lot of these kids, they can’t talk to their parents about it – they don’t have any connection to the ski resorts – to be like, ‘What’s it like to go to the mountains?’ So they’re going to need resources like LTeen Magazine to help them learn about it, then make those choices whether they want to be involved in it or not,” Delaroca said.For more information on the magazine, visit http://www.lateenmagazine.com.Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-4629, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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