If you were to ask the youth at STOKED who their positive role model is, one of the first people they would mention would be Sophia Lerdahl. Sophia is a dedicated person who discovered after tutoring and working at summer camps that working with youth made her “feel alive.”
Sophia cares deeply about her program before, during, and after work hours, and is a tireless advocate for the youth she serves at STOKED, an organization dedicated to promoting personal development, academic achievement, and healthy living to under-served youth through action sports culture including snowboarding, skateboarding, and surfing. Sophia is constantly innovating herself professionally and doing the same for the programs she runs.
Sophia’s most important quality is her ability to make a huge impression on the youth she serves. Sophia works directly with every single youth at STOKED. She spends four days a week guest-leading the sites she manages and runs Saturday service and sports programs. Since starting at STOKED three years ago, she has worked with hundreds of youth, launched a program enabling high school students to earn community service hours to be used towards their graduation, and rewrote the curriculum for “Stoked for Success,” a four-year afterschool program focused on career and college readiness. She has provided literacy support by starting a summer book club, has helped youth gain the confidence to try new things and succeed, and in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, raised money and provided transportation for 100 youth and adults to do cleanup projects in the communities in which they run programming. In addition, she ran a program for 10 youth in partnership with Mountain Dew, conceiving and producing a commercial which the students sold to Pepsi – and she accomplished all of this while serving as a role model, leader, and mentor for each of the youth in her programs.
Sophia doesn’t see obstacles, she only sees possibilities. She has inspired hundreds of “least likely to succeed” students to become confident, outspoken, and motivated go-getters, and continues to inspire the youth at STOKED to become self-assured and prepared high school graduates who are ready for the 21st century.