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KCR: Youth mental and physical health improved through mentorship

These columns are contributed by the KCR Community Resources

Elevation Outdoors was founded in 2007 by Tori Hanson and a small group of dedicated individuals that saw a need in the community to break down barriers facing young people and help them to find a passion that leads to a healthy, happier life. Their organization offers snowboarding, mountain biking, rock climbing, snowshoeing, sailing, and leadership programs for all youth, and additionally offers full scholarship seats for eligible youth facing barriers to participation. Elevation Outdoors provides all the required equipment for the different programs so that all a participant needs to do is show up with a positive attitude and a willingness to try something new. Transportation is also included in the programs from a common meeting point, to ensure that each youth has an opportunity to participate.

Each program is facilitated with the help of volunteer mentors who are there to share their passion for the activity and to build a positive relationship with the participants.

“Since our first program in 2008 we have been able to help hundreds of young people find a new passion and develop more healthy lifestyles while learning skills that will stay with them for life,” says Jess Bodrug, program and volunteer coordinator for Elevation Outdoors, sharing the impact volunteers make. “Their passion, leadership, and positive example get our participants excited to try new things, step outside of their comfort zones, expand their horizons and positively shape their lives!”

“We strive to keep our ratios in our programs at 3:1 or lower so that our volunteer mentors and participants are able to have quality conversations and build a relationship,” continues Jess. “We work with a wide variety of youth, many who are struggling with life’s challenges and may not otherwise get the opportunity to participate in these sports. Our volunteers have found meaning in building relationships with these youth and their biggest reward is seeing the positive effect that outdoor physical activity and relationship building has on the mental and physical health of the youth.”

Jess identifies that for those working towards being an outdoor guide or instructor, program facilitator, recreational therapy, or coach, the experience gained in Elevation is invaluable.

“We also see a lot of volunteers that are pursuing work in the social work, psychology, restorative justice, or teaching fields who gain experience working with groups of youth, many of whom struggle with mental health challenges, low-income barriers, or connection to probation, restorative justice or MCFD programs,” adds Jess. “Elevation is a great way to gain volunteer hours, experience working with youth (both one-on-one and in a group), and certification in trainings (which you can utilize when seeking jobs and education). It also allows you to build long-lasting relationships by joining a community of like-minded staff and volunteers!”

Currently the organization is seeking volunteers in all of their programs (snowboarding, snowshoeing, hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, and leadership program volunteers), with their events, as media capture (video/photo of our programs), and as drivers (Class 4 licence). Program volunteers commit to volunteering once a week for the duration of any program (4 - 8 weeks) on evenings, or sometimes weekends, to model commitment and consistency to the youth. All positions are in-person and having any kind of certification (ie. First Aid, instructor certification such as MTBIA or CASI, Class 4 Licence) is a bonus! Volunteers can apply at To contact Jess, email

Elevation Outdoors is hosting their annual fundraiser Wild and Scenic Film Festival on January 27th with proceeds going to the scholarship programs for youth. Early Bird tickets are available until January 5th at midnight at

Dorothee Birker is the communications and development coordinator for KCR Community Resources. If you are interested in sharing your volunteer or organizational news, please contact Dorothee at

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