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Adaptive Sports program needs volunteers
Working with people like Cassie Kennedy, a 24-year-old Kamloops resident born with cerebral palsy, is the big reward for those who volunteer with Adaptive Sports at Sun Peaks (ASSP).
“Skiing makes me feel awesome,” Kennedy said in an interview with Thompson Rivers University journalism student Ashley Legebokow.
“I can do something great and do what I love. I believe there’s a way for anyone to do something.”
The program enables people with a wide range of disabilities — cognitive, physical and intellectual — to experience winter sports, such as snowboarding, skiing and sit-skiing, at Sun Peaks Resort.
Sharon Tremblay, ASSP president, said the program is in need of volunteers, with the slate of activities set to kick into full swing in January.
Those wishing to lend a hand require Level 1 certification with the Canadian Association for Disabled Skiers, the training for which will be held at Sun Peaks from Dec. 14 to Dec. 16.
There is also pre-requisite training, held on Saturday, Dec. 8, or Sunday, Dec. 9, based on volunteer availability.
Kennedy began skiing with ASSP four years ago, wishing only to experience the crisp alpine air like anybody else.
“My goal is not to win,” she said. “I want to win, but my goal is to do it and make it through.”
Kennedy — now a Special Olympian — placed first in a race last season at the Sun Peaks-hosted Adaptive Sports Festival.
Tremblay said there are many stories similar to that of Kennedy’s.
“The spinoff is one of the most important things. The athletes start with us and they say, ‘I need to gain some upper-body strength’ or ‘I need to start working out,’ and it ends up changing their life.”
The non-profit program — free for its participants — would not function without volunteers.
“They are our biggest asset,” Tremblay said.
“They’re the ones who teach the lessons. They’re the ones who run the committees and fundraise. We’re always looking for volunteers on-hill and off-hill.”
Those who commit 100 hours — about one day a week for the winter season — are eligible for a free season’s pass.
Anyone who spends one day volunteering is given a day pass for a later date, in addition to skiing for free the day they assist or teach lessons.
The instruction provided is based on lessons given to able-bodied people and adapted to fit each student, based on their disability.
“It’s all about inclusion,” Tremblay said, noting the program has welcomed people of all ages with many different disabilities, including autism, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder and various types of paralyses.
“We had a 71-year-old learning to sit-ski up here this week.
“We’re very flexible in terms of how we teach. We gear our lessons to the needs and goals of the student.”
To inquire about registering or volunteering, visit adaptivesportsatsunpeaks.org or email email@example.com.
Kennedy encouraged those on the fence to jump off and give ASSP a chance.
“They want you to do your best,” she said.
“They want you to have fun. It’s awesome.”