Experts Share Inclusion and Diversity Key to Growth On The Slopes
By Allie Iorio
SIA President, Nick Sargent, kicked off the conversation of how understanding inclusion and diversity on the slopes can help the betterment of the community and the people who are involved in the action sports industry. In the webinar, key insights from a variety of voices shared how diversity and inclusion, specifically on the slopes, has affected their own lives and how they want to better the lives of the future generations.
Moderator, Selema Masekela who is the co-founder of Stoked Mentoring, an organization dedicated to mentoring at-risk youth through action sports, shared his views on seeing a void on the mountains between inclusion and diversity. “This is a lifestyle that inherently just makes better human beings. It’s a level of being alive, you’re performing athletically, you are so in touch with nature and you are experiencing something as a result of being in elevation, harnessing gravity and negotiating terrain - it ends up being spiritual.” He stated.
Panelists also shared their thoughts on what inclusion and diversity mean to them, catering around action sports. Introducing Dr. Gerilyn Davis who is the Chief Inclusion Officer of Inclusion on the Slopes, to Steve Larosiliere who is the Founder and President of Stoked Mentoring, to Kevin McManamon who is the Executive Director of AspenOut and Producer of Aspen Gay Ski Week, to Henri Rivers who is the President of National Brotherhood of Skiers.
Dr. Gerilyn Davis
Inclusion is the ability for people to be able to show up and be their authentic selves and be in an environment that is not only safe but welcoming and that they are valued and appreciated.
“My own personal definition of inclusion is that I concentrate on seeking the human connection in every person that I encounter”
She uses that as her foundation to connect with other people and says that has improved her quality of life.
Including the LGBTQ community and welcoming everyone, including people of color, to Aspen Gay Ski Week
He looks more at the inclusion side of it which to him means being supported, being accepted, and being respected - if I can have that I feel included. Respect is the key component there. That is what I am looking for when being included.
“The environment was completely sterile. There was no color. None. But at eight or ten years old, you're not thinking about color, you're thinking about having fun and enjoying the sport that you're taking on and learning. Even still to this day, when we see others on the mountain, you get drawn to them. It’s an affinity. Power of attraction. You go over there and introduce yourself and you feel inclusive. It’s come a very long way; still, a long way to go, but we’re getting there.”
Gathering people centered around making a difference and a positive impact on those whose lives are centered around the mountains. He explains his definition of diversity and inclusion by describing how diversity is when you look in a room and can pinpoint specific people that stand out to you in that room whereas inclusivity is more about how a person is part of the environment, they are contributing to the space that they are occupying.
Specifically designed around the slopes, Steve talks about how Stoked Mentoring was carefully curated and has thoughtfully developed a sense of diversity and inclusion on the slopes. He went on to say that the purpose of Stoked is “not just about bringing these kids up to the mountains, it’s more about them adopting the culture and the lifestyle”.
He takes it a step further by saying that bringing these kids there they strive to show the importance of inclusion and making the space as welcoming as possible for the kids to feel safe and be who they truly are knowing that their decisions surrounding this lifestyle could benefit them in the long run.
“As you start to really make the connections in your mind, and I’ve seen this happen with the kids, is that they actually start to reconceptualize what their life experiences are like because now they are put in a place of unlimited possibilities. The mountains represent the highest form of what is possible with nature and therefore you harnessing the power of nature to really perform at your highest, with the skill, with the opportunity, with the right equipment, that surrounds you with “anything is possible”.
Steve is so passionate about bringing awareness to the slopes and making sure that everyone can participate in such a fun activity, together. To put it simply, what they really have been doing at Stoked is breaking down barriers.
You can watch the complete replay of the webinar here: