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SOUTHINGTON, Conn. — A recent sunny day at Mount Southington was the backdrop for something not often seen on the ski slopes all around the country: a group of 17 kids of color going downhill fast on snowboards.

Vince Stimpson, a math teacher by trade from Trumbull, began Black Boarders CT two years ago to open up the sport to more kids of color.

“Our mission is to promote diversity and inclusion in winter sports by giving Black and brown kids access to the slope and to learn how to snowboard,” he said.

RELATED: Ski patrollers combine for nearly a century of experience at Mount Southington

Stimpson has been snowboarding for 13 years and got the idea for Black Boarders CT when his, then 6-year-old daughter, Sislyn, told him she was the only Black kid in her snowboarding class.

In just two years, Black Boarders CT now has about two dozen snowboarders learning the twists and turns of the sport.

Mount Southington graciously provides some of the gear and donations go towards the costs of lift tickets and instruction.“There are so many different factors that cause black and brown people not to participate in winter sports; who in the neighborhood looks like you does it?” Stimpson added. “And so, at Black Boarders CT, our goal is to eradicate those obstacles that are in the way.”

Marcel Feliciano, a Hamden High School junior, was on the board for the first time.

“It’s for everyone and especially like people with my skin color, they should come here because it’s really fun,” he said.

Seasoned snowboarder Guershon Villiere traveled from Long Island to join the group. Villiere has been snowboarding for the last six years and helps to instruct.

“We’re trying to get more minorities on the snow, so I have no problem driving here and helping a great cause,” Villiere said.
Looking around the crowded slopes at Mount Southington, Stimpson added that a snowboard is empowering for his group new to the sport.

“They’re learning so much more than just snowboarding here – perseverance, the grit because now it’s opening up a pathway to wherever it is they want to go,” he said.

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