“The possibilities are endless, it’s just getting the resources in place to do it,” said Adaptive Sports Sun Peaks (ASSP) program manager Jenny Hawes.
After spending a week at the beginning of July with the Whistler Adaptive Sports Program, Hawes is looking at expanding the local adaptive snowsports program into summer sports. In hopes of developing an adaptive mountain bike and water sports program in the community, she met with the Whistler program’s executive director Chelsey Walker to learn how the program grew to offer 18 sports.
“The way they did it they tapped into people who are already delivering the sport and then training them up into adaptive,” said Hawes. “So instead of training up on the technical side of mountain biking or kayaking, you find someone who is already doing it and then train them up on the adaptive side.”
At Sun Peaks, Hawes hopes to develop a mountain biking program within the next few years tapping into local knowledge and the experience of the Whistler program. She’s waiting to receive trail building specs to see how adaptive bike trails could be incorporated into the local trail systems.
“I’m gathering information and understanding what the demand is, (that) is key because I think that is going to drive our program delivery,” she said. “Right now, mountain biking seems to be a pretty hot topic there (are) some organizations that are putting some considerable money into their mountain bike program, such as Nakusp (Kootenay Adaptive Sports Association).”
In the Kootenays, the first region’s adaptive sports camp was held in 2018. The program is continuing to build their mountain biking program with the knowledge shared from the attendee’s personal experience.
That sharing of knowledge is becoming a trend across the province as more adaptive programs begin to expand or look to expand into summer offerings. Hawes commented that unlike winter adaptive sports there currently is no provincial governing body for summer sports, leading each program to develop their own standard practices.
As a leader in adaptive sports development, Whistler is currently working to create a dialogue between the programs who currently offer or are looking to offer summer programming in a way of creating guidelines for the programs.
“Everyone’s doing their own thing and developing their own processes and procedures. To bring everyone together would be a game changer to standardize the sports,” said Hawes.
Before the local program can expand its operations, Hawes says they need to find a permanent location confirming a building fund has already been established. After her week away, Hawes believes ASSP’s expansion into summer sports will be a few years away but will continue the legwork to get the program to a fuller offering of sports.