Although the snow has yet to fall, Adaptive Sports Sun Peaks (ASSP), has been preparing throughout most of the summer. In addition to organizing events, writing grants, and recruiting volunteers, committee members have been busy searching out their first paid employee, new program co-ordinator, Anne Nicholson.
“A lot of the-behind-the-scenes infrastructure takes place right now. We really build up the program in the summer,” said Sharon Tremblay, ASSP vice-president. “In the winter, we’re out on the snow instructing.”
After eight years in operation, it’s an exciting step forward for the completely volunteer-run program. While ASSP generally receives funding for specific costs like equipment it can been challenging to fund operational expenses.
A catalyst was a fundraiser conducted by Nick Maika in 2015, who skied 85 days for his 85 birthday and raised over $11,000. Being able to spend that money without stipulations, combined with the need to have volunteers do a reasonable amount of work, led to the decision to hire for the first time.
By having one person consistently in charge of the logistics and scheduling of 50 students and matching volunteers, the organization hopes to be able to increase focus on future growth.
“It would be great to be able to look further than 12 months in advance. We want to be looking two, three, five years in advance. I think that’s the goal,” said Nicolson, a long time Sun Peaks resident who brings a foundation of over twenty years of association, administrative and grant writing experience to the position.
“It’s a great community association. It really highlights what we are as a community,” said Nicolson, who said she’s looking forward to her new role.
“On a more personal level, I have a sister that came up through the Special Olympics and that kind of thing, so it’s a very personal achievement, as far as seeing the inclusivity of (sport). So it’s great to see that here in the community too.”
ASSP currently has 35 volunteers and requires around 50 to operate throughout the winter to provide one-on-one coaching and instruction for their anticipated student numbers. While weekends are the busiest, volunteers are also required some weekdays. An intermediate ski ability is all that is required to start. New instructors must register by early September and can then take the Canadian Association for Disabled Skiing (CADS) level 1 instruction course in early winter. There are also non-ski volunteer opportunities.
“For some people starting out we know it’s a little bit intimidating and they wonder ‘what do I have to offer?’” said Tremblay. “It’s really a fun group and there’s so much mentoring and support that happens. Even if people don’t have experience working with people with disabilities, they don’t need to be intimidated by that because you’re always paired with another instructor and we always work with people’s strengths.”
Their Annual General Meeting and student registration is on Oct. 4 at 6 p.m. at the Henry Grube Education Centre in Kamloops.
For the first time, Sun Peaks will host a CADS Western Pre Course from Nov. 25 to 27 for instructors from across Western Canada. For the third time Sun Peaks will host the BC CADS Summit from Dec. 2 to 4 which brings together instructors from across the province. For the fourth year, the National CADS Festival will be held in Sun Peaks from March 25 to 31, which will bring both students and instructors from across the country for development opportunities, including certification courses.
For more information or to volunteer go to www.adaptivesportsatsunpeaks.org.