Helping Youth Dance with Fear

PROVO, Utah – May 28, 2021 – When experience design and management (ExDM) alumna Katie Allred started studying at the BYU Marriott School of Business, she knew she wanted to own and create her own business someday. With strength and determination, she has accomplished what she set out to do. Allred believes BYU Marriott prepared her for her current role as director of her nonprofit company, Pivot Adventure, a unique eight-week resiliency training course that helps clients develop skills to navigate life's challenges.

Allred shares that BYU was the perfect place to develop the necessary skills and leadership traits that she needed to start her own company. Her classes, along with her job as event and stage manager for the College of Fine Arts and Communications, shaped her overall experience in design and management. “With a major in ExDM and a minor in business management, not only did I learn how to build my own company, but I also learned how to financially support it, to keep the accounting, pay bills, file taxes, and things like that,” Allred says.

But her training didn’t stop there. After graduating in 2011, Allred went on to work for the National Park Service, a wilderness therapy program, a city recreation program, and software company Eccovia before starting her nonprofit. Allred says Eccovia, a company that provides health and social service agencies with data to better serve their communities, became a springboard for starting her company.

Eccovia has been supportive of Pivot Adventure and has provided scholarships to students who, during the pandemic, participated in the Pivot Adventure program. The Taylor Hagen Memorial Foundation has also been a partner from the beginning and they are very grateful for them.

Allred runs the company with her husband, Josh, whom she met on a blind date while they were both attending college in Utah County. He graduated from Utah Valley University with a degree in outdoor recreation management. With both their backgrounds in experience management, the Allreds worked together to come up with the idea for Pivot Adventure.

After years of working in the field of recreation, the Allreds came to the conclusion that there weren’t enough mental health resources for at-risk youth in outdoor environments. “We looked at what the industry was doing and said, ‘This isn't enough,’” she explains. Allred shares that with suicide being the highest cause of death for teens in Utah, she wanted to focus on providing an affordable option with powerful curriculum for families whose kids struggle with mental health.

One thing that makes Pivot Adventure unique is that participants stay with their families during the program and participate on weekly outings instead of being uprooted out of their routines. “After working in the outdoor industry, we realized that students are having this “a-ha” moment when they're up on the rock wall or when they snowshoe and reach a peak.” The Allreds believed that students didn’t need to leave their families but could achieve these a-ha moments during a four-hour outing.

Pivot Adventure provides weekly outings instead of residential treatment programs so that participants can continue to participate in the things they enjoy and stay with their support systems while learning new skills and trying new things. Parents are also involved in learning new skills and coping mechanisms to support their children. “These teens needed a course where the families could be involved instead of excluded,” Allred says. The program leads to participants and parents working together and creating a space where they can use the new skills they have learned.

Through Pivot Adventure, Allred has been able to make a difference in teens’ lives. For example, Allred shares the story of a fifteen-year-old boy who made his first friend after learning new skills during the program. Another teen made it up a climbing wall after overcoming her shame and anxiety, eventually developing confidence in herself and came out of her shell. These experiences help participants to find strength when they feel weak and, as Allred describes it, “dance with the fear.”

Allred’s experience and determination has made Pivot Adventure a reality. She says the company wouldn’t be where it is today without the skills she learned at BYU Marriott. Through hard work and determination, Allred and her husband are excited to see Pivot Adventure continue to grow and help teens improve their lives through recreation.

BYU Marriott ExDM alumni Katie Allred
BYU Marriott ExDM alumni Katie Allred. Photo courtesy of Katie Allred.
Allred helping a client rock climb.
Allred helping a client rock climb. Photo courtesy of Katie Allred.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Veronica Davis