Adapting so we can all hit the hill

 | December 6, 2012
Kamloops sit-skier Cassie Kennedy takes some turns at Sun Peaks with ASSP volunteer Gerry Tremblay.

School snow trips bring back memories of early mornings, unmatched excitement and prayers for fresh powder runs with friends. When the day finally came, it was like Christmas. But imagine if one of your best friends wasn’t there to share in the fun on the hill. Not because your friend couldn’t but because the help your friend needed wasn’t available.

This is where Adaptive Sports at Sun Peaks (ASSP) fits in. ASSP aims to make the mountain experience accessible to all by providing opportunities for people with a range of disabilities.

“The focus really is about fun and inclusion,” said new adaptive sports president Sharon Tremblay. “One of the major goals of the program is to work with students with disabilities in Kamloops and the surrounding area, allowing them to experience the freedom, joy and satisfaction of (snow sports) with their classmates.”

But ASSP’s program isn’t limited to students. Free lessons are available to residents of the Thompson-Nicola regional district with a disability, who are 6-years or older.

Tremblay said that the program ranges from “learning how to put skis on,” to instructed lessons, but is ultimately based on each person’s goals.

Tremblay, a retired psychiatric nurse, has spent the past 10 winters at Sun Peaks. She said that ASSP’s current priority is recruiting new volunteers because without volunteers the program wouldn’t exist.

“You don’t have to be an ‘expert’ skier or boarder to volunteer with ASSP. If you’re a confident, experienced skier or boarder . . . we encourage you to contact us.”

Even if you aren’t able to help out on snow, Tremblay says there is a way you can help out.

“Volunteers are also needed to assist us off the mountain with marketing, fundraising, special events, graphic/web design and IT support.”

And there are some fantastic perks available for volunteers too, like the possibility of getting a free Sun Peaks season’s pass if you complete 100 hours on the hill with ASSP this winter.

Tremblay said that ASSP’s volunteers and participants are in for a big winter with the Canadian National Para-Alpine Championships and the Canadian Association of Disabled Skiing (CADS) National Ski Improvement and Race Development Festival, being held at Sun Peaks in March 2013. “It’s a great way for our (participants) to see where their potential can go and see some athletes who have taken their skills and developed.”

There are also opportunities for volunteers to expand their knowledge with CADS level 1, 2 and 2A training courses being offered at Sun Peaks this year. On snow training for volunteers will be held at Sun Peaks on December 8 with a CADS Level 1 Instructor Certification Course being held on December 14 to 16.

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