For some ski and snowboard stars like Gretchen Bleiler and Jeremy Jones, global warming is a very real threat. They have been experiencing the impacts first-hand for years — shorter seasons, earlier snowmelt in the spring and a dwindling snowpack in many mountainous areas, in the U.S. and around the globe.
And as part of the Protect Our Winters campaign, the athletes have taken their action-oriented message from the halls of Congress to the auditoriums at schools around the country. Last month, POW relaunched its Hot Planet/Cool Athletes program to bring that perspective into classrooms.
The goal is to explain climate change in an engaging way, and to inspire and empower students to become involved in the movement to protect the winter sports and winter mountain environment. Sponsored by The North Face, and in association with Clif Bar, Mountain Equipment Co-Op and Teton Gravity Research, the program has already been presented to more than 20,000 students at 41 schools nationwide since 2011.
To get the message across, Bleiler and Jones have been joined by Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, Ingrid Backstrom, Lucas Debari, Danny Davis and Angel Collinson in a video project featuring compelling ski and snowboard scenes, along with a climate-science primer. Other snowsports stars are making school appearances. You can watch one of the videos on YouTube.
The ski industry as a whole is also starting to work on climate change at the political level, with the National Ski Areas Association (representing most of the country's major resorts) lobbying Congress and challenging its members to reduce their greenhouse gas footprint.
“Young people have the most to gain and the most to lose, by taking care of this earth and solving climate change right now,” said POW advocate Sage Cattabriga-Alosa.“They should be empowered to take care of their environment and see that they can actually influence adults, their parents, and the people around them.”
The program kicked off at the beginning of the school semester and will continue throughout the year in places such as Vancouver BC, Seattle, Santa Barbara, Burlington, Boise, Salt Lake City, Denver and many others. To book a school assembly, please contact POW at: [email protected].
Along with school presentations, POW is launching a hash-tagged social media campaign focused around an urgent call to action that invites students to become POW Student Climate Leaders.
POW can track the #ourtimeisnow hashtag to provide meaningful climate actions directly back to each student. As students become more involved in the campaign by using the hashtag on Twitter and Instagram, they will have opportunities to win great prizes from brands like The North Face and Clif Bar and the chance to spend time with professional athletes discussing climate change or joining POW representatives on Capitol Hill.
“We’ve got to create a social movement starting with young kids who will be the most affected, and we feel that this component of the program is a critical step in making a difference,” said POW director Chris Steinkamp.”By using social media as a backbone for it, we’re connecting with students on their terms and starting that movement with meaningful results,” he said.
The new program also provides benefits to the students and their schools. The Shane McConkey Foundation is inviting student teams that host a Hot Planet/Cool Athletes assembly this fall to compete against each other by submitting cutting carbon ideas for their schools, for a chance to win $10,000 in total prize money to be awarded on Earth Day, 2014.