If a person is keen to learn to ski or snowboard and is visually impaired, missing a limb, or has autism, where do they go for the kind of specialized instruction they need? One option is Sun Peaks Resort in B.C.’s Interior where a recent grant of $10,000 from the Kamloops Blazers Sports Society* “Sports Legacy Fund” will help Adaptive Sports at Sun Peaks (ASSP) continue to support training and certification for its roster of volunteer instructors.
“Volunteers are our biggest asset” says Sharon Tremblay, ASSP President. “Financial support for volunteers to continue their training beyond initial certification through the Canadian Association of Disabled Skiing (CADS) is a key element to increasing instructional skills, retaining our volunteers and delivering a quality program to our students.” Tremblay adds that ASSP is extremely grateful to the Kamloops Blazers for several donations that began in 2009.
Previous Legacy Fund grants from the Blazers contributed to the purchase of unique equipment including sit-skis, outriggers and other items that help people with a wide range of disabilities participate in snow sports at Sun Peaks. The most recent grant will enable volunteers to improve their teaching skills as they work with students using this highly specialized gear.
Now in its sixth year of operation, ASSP has more than 45 volunteer instructors who provided close to 200 lessons, approximately 15 days of guiding for visually impaired skiers and hundreds of hours of general assistance for disabled skiers and snowboarders in the 2012/13 ski season. Tremblay says this season’s lesson program is even larger, including a 10-week learn-to-ski/ride series for students of all ages and with varying disabilities.
Parent Nan Stevens has this to say about the program: “My son Westin lives with Pervasive Developmental Delay. He has skied with the ASSP program at Sun Peaks for the last four winters. The program provides safe and fun-loving volunteers who enjoy working with people with exceptionalities. Westin has gained strength, endurance, and an understanding of needing to stay within the boundaries of the ski runs. Most of all he has benefited from the social interaction and positive relationships with the ASSP staff, volunteers and other skiers. His smile says it all. He loves to ski and he loves to be outdoors. Thanks to the enrichment of the ASSP program, Westin will have a leisure activity that he can participate in for the rest of his life.”
Jodi Roberts has been an ASSP volunteer for two years. “Working with the students is so rewarding, but it’s a big responsibility too. I know that I’ll be a lot more confident after I’ve taken my next level of training and it’s a huge help to get some financial support to do the course” says Roberts.
Tremblay believes the potential for growth of ASSP is huge. In addition to maintaining a strong cadre of volunteers, the biggest challenge for the organization is acquiring a dedicated space to operate from and discussions are underway to explore options for securing a permanent home base on the mountain. In the meantime, the group now has a visible presence in the Sun Peaks Village at their new office located in the Coast Sundance Lodge.
Tremblay says that drop-in traffic since the office opened this season has greatly increased awareness of the program. As more people with a disability learn about the skiing and snowboarding opportunities Adaptive Sports at Sun Peaks expects the market for these specialized lessons to increase and, with help from the Kamloops Blazers Sports Society Legacy Fund, they plan to be ready with well trained volunteer instructors.
*February 17th, 2015 – Correction: Kamloops Blazers Sports Society