In 2010, Bo Twiggs and his family headed to the hills and a new home in Vermont. For the Wisconsin-raised Twiggs who had attended the Carrabassett Valley Academy at Sugarloaf Mountain in Maine, it was a happy return to New England.
His life in Shelburne has brought him closer to the mountains he loves and the opportunity to engage in work he finds meaningful.
Now 38, Twiggs was a serious ski racer until his sophomore year at Carrabassett when he made the switch from two planks to one. “I found that once I was at a high level, skiing stopped being fun,” he said. “It didn’t have the creativity that I found through snowboarding.”
Despite his love of snow sports, Twiggs moved to New York City where he followed his B.A. in Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Masters in Social Work at Fordham University.
Initially drawn to the music scene, he was employed as a DJ and club promoter (he still likes to mix records), but he also began to work with people who were struggling, particularly those who had been incarcerated. Deciding to make that his career focus, Twiggs joined The Center for Court Innovation and developed the UPNEXT Program which assists people reentering their community after being imprisoned.
While in New York, Twiggs began to volunteer for the Chill Program, founded by Jake and Donna Carpenter – who also started Burton Snowboards in Vermont– to help at-risk and other youths through sports such as snowboarding and skateboarding. He later joined the advisory committee in New York City and last December, he became a member of the Board of Directors.
“It’s about creating opportunities for youth to grow through the experience of overcoming challenges and gaining new insights,” he said. “Snowboarding and skateboarding were important to me growing up. I was disconnected to snowboarding for a while in the city but Chill gave me the opportunity to get back into it.”
Twiggs and his family moved to Shelburne in August 2016. “We were trying to figure out a way to connect ourselves with nature and outdoor activities and also really make sure that our young girls would grow up with open spaces and beautiful places to call home,” he said.
“We moved up here to take in all that is wonderful on individual and family recreation levels and for the community resources,” he said. “I’m happy to be a part of those resources in the unique way that others help others in Vermont.”
An example of those resources came as Twiggs learned about criminal and restorative justice in Vermont. “I was excited to hear people talk about how much restorative justice infrastructure there is,” he said.
Twiggs serves as the Youth Justice Program Manager at the Franklin Grand Isle Restorative Justice Center. His duties include working with high risk youth and assisting with court diversion programs.
“Young people talk to the panel and they find that they are supported and held accountable at the same time,” he said. “When it works out, the kind of closure that comes for the young folks is really powerful. You’re able to see them growing from the situation rather than have it be an on-ramp to a negative future. It’s really a powerful thing.”