“I am on a mission to change the culture of the outdoor community to prioritize and honor mental health” – Drew Petersen
Drew Petersen delivered an impactful talk this week focusing on the significant and often overlooked issues related to mental health and suicide within the skiing community. Drew, a professional skier, revealed his battles with bipolar diagnosis, depression, and suicidal thoughts, emphasizing that his identity is not solely defined by his professional status or his mental health condition. He highlighted the transformative journey of creating the film titled “Ups & Downs,” reflecting his experiences and struggles.
Drew’s poignant discourse shed light on the stark realities faced by individuals in mountain and rural communities, where the rates of suicide are notably higher and discussions about mental health are often overshadowed by a culture of extreme sports and partying. He mentioned the detrimental impact of toxic positivity, substance abuse, and economic struggles prevalent in such environments, stressing the need for genuine community support and the fostering of deep, rich, intergenerational relationships.
What struck me was Drew’s very important message of self care and how he finally embraced putting himself first. He finds solace in mindfulness meditation, gratitude, and sobriety. He is on a mission advocating for a fundamental shift in ski culture and societal systems to prioritize mental well-being, authentic human connections, and holistic approaches to health.
Drew emphasized the importance of giving voice to pain, seeking help, and transforming pain into purpose, inspiring change and awareness within the community and beyond. He concluded by underscoring the importance of creating inclusive spaces, fostering mutual support, and promoting a balanced approach to life and sports, enabling individuals to be their truest, most authentic selves.
What I found especially brave was the Q&A that followed Drew’s talk. Bravo to the parents, students, employees, and community members that had the courage to share!
Congratulations to all who participated, donated and volunteered at the 10th Annual Pie in the Face for Chase! There was a terrific turnout and by the looks on the faces – everyone had a great time raising funds for the Phelan-McDermid Syndrome Foundation. A special shout out to all those who took pies in the face and especially to the Original Pie-ees: DJ Dave Hoffenberg, Rick Kuehl, Sal Salmeri, Kelly Spear and Peter Whittier in their 10th year! If you were not able to make it, you can still donate here.
The weekend weather might just cooperate for those of you headed out to the Killington Brewfest. Your Brewer’s Guide can be found here. It is also Open Studio Weekend with the Vermont Crafts Council. You can plan a studio trip here. Take some time and visit the studio of your favorite artist or maybe you’ll discover a new favorite!
Please join the town, the KPAA staff, regional officials and state officials on Wednesday, Oct. 4th at 1:30pm in the Welcome Center for a reception to celebrate the long awaited start of Killington Forward’s municipal water system and road projects.
Enjoy the colors this weekend!
Kelly and the KPAA Team