Member Profile: Jackson Darr
The Member Profile is an online resource you can use to share your passion for snowsports instruction, as well as other things that are important in your life. Here, Jackson Darr shares his story.
Disciplines: Alpine skiing and snowboarding
Region: Central – Wisconsin
Where do you work: Positive Altitudes
What inspired you to become an instructor?
Along with my sister Mia, I am the founder of a non-profit, Positive Altitudes (postivealtitudes.org), which teaches underserved kids in the Milwaukee area how to ski. Financial barriers and proximity to ski resorts are factors that prevent many kids in Milwaukee from accessing this great sport. Our organization has provided about 600 ski lessons to underserved kids over the past two years.
What really inspires me is giving kids who never would have the chance or means to ski the opportunity to learn how to ski through our four-week learn to ski program. Our desire to start Positive Altitudes and teach skiing isn’t simply about imparting knowledge on how to ski. It’s about giving kids the tools to unlock their potential.
There are so many important life skills Mia and I have learned from skiing. Skiing develops resilience through the process of getting back up after falling. It has pushed me to take calculated risks and to trust myself. Skiing has also provided many personal benefits for mental health. Being on the hill or the mountain surrounded by nature’s beauty always provides me with a fresh perspective on life during stressful times. Finally, we both have met so many incredible people through the sport, whether it’s ski racing teammates or new people on the chairlift sitting next to us.
What keeps you coming back to teach every year?
The joy the kids have when they see a ski hill for the first time and the freedom they feel when they are skiing make it all worthwhile. Winters can be long in Wisconsin, and we thought it would be cool to be able to introduce the sport to kids who may not be able to afford it on their own. If you are not born into a family that skis and don’t have the financial means, there’s a pretty good chance you may never learn to ski. This does not seem fair, especially in Wisconsin, where snow is plentiful! Every kid deserves the opportunity to experience the joy, the challenge, and the freedom that comes with obtaining the lifelong skill of skiing.
What stands out about your teaching?
I have been ski racing for eight years. I have found that the principles of ski racing apply to everyday skiing. Also, I am close in age with the kids in my program. I find that being close in age with the kids allows me to relate to them.
What’s one accessory, tool, or education resource you keep in your pocket?
Starburst candies are fantastic to have in your pocket. If kids are feeling frustrated or need a boost or even need to be rewarded for doing something well, it’s great to have Starbursts on hand to sweeten things up!
Is there an “insider tip” you’d share with new members?
Try to remember what it felt like when you were learning to ski so you can be relatable. Be upbeat; make it fun! Also, it never hurts to have an extra set of hand warmers in your pocket!
Describe a teaching or learning experience that sticks out in your mind.
One of the many stories that stands out is Nicholas. I remember his first day at our program two years ago. He arrived in tears as he realized he’d forgotten his mittens. Together, we ventured to the lost and found, salvaging a pair for the evening. This marked the humble beginning of our connection. Throughout several lessons, Nicholas’ trepidation for skiing turned to trust in himself and in me, and he transformed from a hesitant newcomer into a confident skier. When he was interviewed about the program, he said that coming to the ski hill was like being in a “different world.” It was a place he could just be himself. While it may sound simple, his words really struck me. Skiing has been a personal sanctuary for me, and to know that, in a small way, our program gave Nicholas a place to simply be himself felt pretty cool.
Anything else your fellow snow pros should know about you?
I love the sport of skiing and owe so much to the experiences the sport has provided me. I have seen some of the most beautiful terrain and met the coolest people doing it. I will graduate high school this year and plan to attend college and focus on business and look forward to exploring new terrain and adventures as I continue my love for skiing.
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