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Zero Ceiling: A journey to the top

Eight-year-old program for disadvantaged youth making a difference in people's lives

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Zero Ceiling has also recently expanded to a national focus with the addition of the Zero Ceiling Quebec. The French chapter of the program was initiated when young Montreal entrepreneur Philippe Krivicky approached Chris Winter after seeing Zero Ceiling featured on the television program SportsNet.

Krivicky believes there are four essential elements to a balanced lifestyle: family and friends; work; spirituality; and sport. He felt that Zero Ceiling embodied all four and was inspired to begin a branch of the program at Mont Tremblant. In its first season in 2003, the Quebec branch hosted over 140 youth through the Day Visit program. This season it will also offer the Instructor Program, with employment opportunities in both the Ski and Snowboard Schools.

Krivicky has proved himself to be a hard-working addition to the organization, having raised over $20,000 from diverse sources such as the Zellers Foundation, ING Canada, the Cirque du Soleil and Lafuma (a ski and snowboard wear company). Krivicky would like to ensure that the Quebec branch grows a solid base, and foresees the addition of a third program geared specifically towards teenagers.

Meanwhile back in Whistler, Zero Ceiling has been garnering its own attention. There can be no doubt that the organization is a sexy one to be affiliated with – having been the benefactor of fundraising efforts by groups such as Westbeach Canada and the TELUS World Ski and Snowboard Festival, where the organization received funds from both the Riding High Mountain Bike Slideshow and the world premiere of the indie skater film Lords of Dogtown . Currently, the organization is also in sponsorship discussions with a telecommunications company and Snowboard.com.

Having established its programs and credibility, the organization is now looking to secure additional funding through corporate and government sectors.

The pending arrival of the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games is another possible avenue. Recently, 2010 Legacies Now, a non-profit organization working to ensure Olympic-related legacies, facilitated discussions between Zero Ceiling and the Royal Bank Canada Foundation. These discussions led to a much-appreciated financial donation.

In the meantime, Winter still hopes that Zero Ceiling will have an opportunity in the future to fulfill a more prominent role in the realization of Olympic legacies. As with other non-profit organizations, funding is the catalyst to such aspirations.

So what is on Zero Ceiling’s holiday wish list this year? What would the organization like to achieve if funding were not an issue? Both Winter and Hack are quick to articulate several aspirations. The first would be the ability to accommodate more youth into the SIP and to be able to offer employment opportunities in addition to the Snowboard School that appeal to their youth audience.

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