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Altis Community Ambassador Program update

Vera Schmitz
Ellie Spain

Ellie Spain

ALTIS Director of Education

Following the 2013 launch of the Community Ambassador Program, Altis athletes have been working hard behind the scenes to make an impact in the local community. In this insightful update written by Long Jumper Christabel Netty, and Pole Vaulter Vera Schmitz, we hear about their work so far.

“This past fall Altis athletes set out on a mission to give back to the local Phoenix community. As athletes, we have all received tremendous support, and we feel a strong desire to reach out and pay it forward to the people around us. Our ultimate goal was to combine each athlete’s unique talents and passion for helping others into a project that would allow us to reach out in a significant and meaningful way. A great friend of the Altis, Steve Mesler (an Olympic gold medalist in the bobsled and co-founder of Classroom Champions) was the perfect person to help us brainstorm, research, and develop a strong and impactful program.

During our planning sessions, we were able to identify many ways for Altis athletes to use our talents and passions to help others in our community. In the end, we decided to narrow our focus to one specific area where our talent for mentorship and leadership would be of most value. Did you know there are 15,000 youths in the foster care system in Phoenix alone? When we learned this statistic, we immediately knew we wanted to take part in helping bridge the gaps in what can be a unstable and uncertain living and learning environment. And so, the idea for ROPE was born.

WAC athletes planned their program with Classroom Champions founder Steve Mesler
Altis athletes planned the Community Ambassador program & ROPE initiative with the support of Classroom Champions founder Steve Mesler.

ROPE stands for Reaching Our Potential Everyday. As elite athletes, we strive everyday to put our best foot forward whether it be practice, competition, mental preparation, nutrition, sleep, etc. In a very real way, we try to Reach Our Potential Everyday as we pursue our dreams to become Olympians. Being an elite athlete requires a very unique set of skills and traits that help us on our journey toward our dreams: determination, discipline, confidence, goal setting, and perseverance to name a few. All of these tools are what help us to Reach Our Potential Everyday, and it is our desire that through mentorship, friendship, conversations, and modeling we might be able to help these young adults gain confidence in their ability to develop some of these skills and take steps toward their own goals.

“ROPE stands for Reaching Our Potential Everyday…we try to Reach Our Potential Everyday as we pursue our dreams to become Olympians”

In early 2014, we partnered with The Turning Point Youth Facility to start ROPE with the youths in their program. Altis has been graciously welcomed into the lives of the youth at Turning Point over the last few months, and it has been a truly awesome experience for all who are involved. Reflecting on our partnership House Director Terence Lenier said: “The athletes from the Altis have been a great addition to the TPYF Family. Each week they bring fresh energy, inspirational challenges, and smiling faces that our youth and staff look forward to seeing. We love our Olympians!”

With each week, trust grows and bonds are formed between the athletes and the youth. The objective of our weekly time is to just “be” with the kids. It isn’t about an agenda, it’s about being present to listen and support. In time, we know the friendships and relationships we are making will be a foundation on which these youth can start to reach their own potential.

“The athletes from the Altis have been a great addition to the TPYF Family. Each week they bring fresh energy, inspirational challenges, and smiling faces …”

We are very much looking forward to sharing with you how this partnership continues to grow, as well as give insight as to how this opportunity is impacting us.”

Altis CEO John Godina has praised the program’s success: “Altis is proud of our athletes’ initiative in the establishment of ROPE. Watching the athletes find a cause they believe in, form a plan to benefit others and diligently establish a true working relationship with The Turning Point Youth Facility has been an inspiration. Knowing the amount of work involved in the growth of ROPE, we are pleased to see the athletes give of themselves to benefit others. Our athletes are unique people with inspirational stories. It is wonderful to see them share their experiences while bonding with the children of The Turning Point Youth Facility.”

You can follow Vera Schmitz, Christabel Nettey and Steve Mesler on Twitter.

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