Schone Malliet’s no–limits attitude propelled him from the projects of the South Bronx to the Marine Corps to the financial services industry. Last year, he founded what he claims to be the nation’s first youth-only ski center, right here in New Jersey.
The National Winter Activity Center (NWAC)—at the site of the former Hidden Valley Ski Resort in Vernon—is intended to improve the lives and well-being of children from all economic backgrounds through winter sports. The nonprofit program welcomed 800 kids, ages 6 to 17, in the initial season last winter. This year, Malliet hopes to double that number.
Participating youth organizations, such as the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges and student groups from Newark, raise funds to cover the $450 cost per child to attend the 40-hour, multiweek program. They are bused to the facility for after-school or weekend lessons and provided with equipment, meals and training from certified coaches.
But the program is about more than skiing and snowboarding. “They’re taking something away that will help them in school and with their families,” Malliet says. That something is confidence.
Newark mom Averilyn McCloud has seen the results first hand. Her daughter, Monica, 12, attended the camp last year through BRICK Avon Academy in Newark. Monica had never skied before. “She wasn’t afraid,” says McCloud. “Whatever limits they had, she went to those limits.”
McCloud served as a chaperone during the program. “There was no fighting or anything like that,” she marvels. “It was just fun.”
Malliet, now in his early 60s, is an accomplished skier and a member of the board of the National Winter Sports Education Foundation, which helps fund NWAC. He hopes to recruit Olympic athletes as role models and trainers for the program and expand to ski areas nationwide.
In mid-January, when the season kicks off, Malliet, who lives in Georgia with his wife and two sons, will likely be found riding the NWAC ski lifts with the campers. “The feeling you get, to see you’ve made a difference—seeing smiles and talking to the kids—I try to get as often as I can,” he attests.Click here to leave a comment