Seeking volunteers: Adaptive Sports program still growing

Students and instructors have fun on the slopes this past season. - Photo Submitted
Students and instructors have fun on the slopes this past season. – Photo Submitted


Another Adaptive Sports at Sun Peaks (ASSP) season is just around the corner and the blossoming organization is putting out the call for new students and volunteers.

“We need a lot of instructors for the work that we do,” said Jodi Roberts, publicity co-ordinator for ASSP. “It’s very labour intensive. We need two instructors per student, at least.”

ASSP, which provides opportunities for people with a wide range of disabilities to participate in snow sports and recreation programs at Sun Peaks Resort, has seen significant growth over the past four years.

“We’ve doubled the amount of students and instructors,” said Roberts, noting 40 local students are expected to receive lessons this season.

“Someone would say, ‘Well, I have MS or Parkinson’s, so I don’t think I can do it,’ and I’d be like, you’d be surprised.”

“We take what you can do — whether you have upper-body strength or no upper-body strength, or you have a spinal-cord injury — and you’d be surprised at what adaptive equipment we have and what we can actually get someone to do on the mountain.

“We have visually impaired skiers going down black runs.”

New this year is a registration session for students at Sahali Mall from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Nov. 13. Organizers and instructors will be at the shopping centre to answer any questions parents might have.

Five-week and 10-week courses are on offer, with the lessons set to begin on Jan. 16.
Roberts would like to have at least 30 volunteer instructors signed on, each of whom will provide about 100 hours worth of lessons throughout the season.

The volunteers are able to choose when they work.

“We have some university students that can only work on the weekends and we have some people that come during the week,” Roberts said. “It’s really up to them.”

Anyone who wants to sign up or find out more is encouraged to email or go online to

“We provide all the instruction and all the adaptive equipment,” Roberts said.

“We’re always fundraising because we’re completely volunteer-based. It’s new and innovative equipment because technology changes every year.”

Volunteers have to pay for training, so ASSP also raises money to help with those costs.

The program, founded in 2008 by retired Kamloops principal Dick Taylor, serves the needs of people with disabilities in Kamloops and surrounding areas.

Stories like the one belonging to Ryder Gillis are not hard to find and they make volunteering worthwhile, Roberts said.

Gillis, who lives with autism, had never taken to sports until he joined the program. By the time he was six, the eager skier was flying down blue runs looking to hit jumps, thanks to ASSP’s instructors.

“If you’re a paraplegic, they have sit-skis and, if you’re visually impaired, they have headphones,” Ryder’s mom, Shannon, told Kamloops This Week. “And, it’s not just for children. It’s for anybody with a disability who needs help.

“You should never give up.”