While Seth Wescott (Sugarloaf, ME) was only recently atop the podium to collecting the second snowboardcross gold medal of his career, his success came from years of dedication grown from a program he once attended in fourth grade encouraging the children of Maine to get involved in winter sports.
Wescott, who first received the opportunity to get on snow through a non-profit foundation in Maine, is now a spokesman for a similar organization called Winter Kids.
“It’s a non profit that’s based on getting kids into winter sports,” Wescott said. “Because of the prohibitive cost of winter sports, Winter Kids gets people who would otherwise be financially challenged out there and participating in them.”
The organization helped to get 10,000 kids in Maine out and participating in winter sports through a variety of school programs in the last year.
Wescott’s story of getting into winter sports and going on to become a two-time Olympic gold medalist is one that he hopes other Maine children can be inspired by.
“The way I got involved in winter sports is through a similar program in the school system in the town of Rangely when I lived there in the fourth grade,” Wescott said. “Neither of my parents were skiers and to have an opportunity like that as a kid, it really changed the direction of my life.”
Wescott now participates in Winter Kids looking to let Mainers know they have the opportunity to have fun in the snow, and potentially to do something great in their lives.
“I go and do school visits and talk to groups about my whole Olympic experience and the fact that just because you’re from Maine doesn’t mean you can’t have a bigger dream and grow up to chase after it,” Wescott said. “To be able to be a recipient of a program like that and have that lead to what it’s led to for me – to be able to use that as an example for kids that getting involved is a stepping point and it could change their life as well.”
The message runs deeper than being an athlete for Wescott, though. It’s also about the health of children in Maine.
“Maine has one of the country’s highest childhood obesity rates and if kids aren’t active in the winter, they’re missing out on half a year of opportunities to do stuff that is physically active,” Wescott said. “Getting outside in the winter time is huge for creating life patterns that will keep them healthy.”
It was Wescott’s interest in the health of Maine’s kids that led the way for him to take part in a Public Service Announcement for First Lady Michelle Obama’s crusade against childhood obesity.
“They contacted me and said that Michelle was doing a program that would involve Olympic athletes fighting against childhood obesity. I felt like that fell perfectly in line with what I’ve been trying to do with Winter Kids,” Wescott said.
To find out how to get involved with Winter Kids click here. http://www.winterkids.org/