Local

From Fresno Streets to Sierra Snow

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Noel Mendoza, 9, has never skied before but Saturday morning she found herself in this chair in Southwest Fresno getting fitted for boots. "I'm excited but I'm scared because I've never seen snow&only on TV," she said.

Mendoza's cousins Marina and Vincent Blancas convinced her to try skiing after attending the free Ski Jamin Winter Sports Program for inner city youth last year.

"It's very fun. It's a life changing experience," Marina Blancas said.

"Our slogan this year is 'Off the streets and on the snow,'" said Ski Jamin founder and president Laurie Nelson.

This nonprofit group raises money through out the year to bus these kids every Saturday from January to March to the Valley's most popular ski destinations like Badger Pass and China Peak.

"It's a life experience where they learn where snow comes from, why is each snow flake different, where does the snow go. It comes down to our Valley. It feeds our crops. It creates our food," Nelson said.

Most of the equipment that the kids will use to hit the slopes is second hand however some of it has been donated brand new. And when it comes to the clothing some of it is coming from lost and found at China Peak and Badger Pass like these gloves and jacket&items that haven't been claimed in over one year.

"I've been skiing a time or two and I think it's pretty hard. So I'm impressed that all you guys are going to learn to ski," said Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin.

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin is helping the group raise $10,000 this season through the city Parcs department. "It taught them discipline. It taught them about athletic training but it also gave them an outlet, something to look forward to each weekend. And really taught them some key, key values in life."

Ski Jamin leaders said the reward is what the children do after the three month adventure.

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sierra summit, fresno county, fresno southwest, local, john-thomas kobos
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