For the past three years, Green Mountain Adaptive Sports has been partnering with the Craftsbury Outdoor Center (COC) to provide an Adaptive Nordic Ski Program to Vermont youth and adults with disabilities and their families. Little did we know at the time how successful this small program would be with participating families.
The idea originated from GMAS’s desire to provide an additional adaptive winter sport so that people with disabilities could participate in another sport other than Adaptive Alpine Skiing which GMAS had been offering at Stowe Mountain Resort for well over a decade now.
“There are limited ways to get our daughter physically active and involved in the community with others. Now that she’s 18, her interaction opportunities are even less beyond high school. She struggles with being physically active, especially in the winter, and needs structured activities to get her body moving. She enjoys snow, but downhill skiing is too scary for her. Nordic Skiing has been a very good fit,” explains the mother of a Morrisville participant.
Clinics for Nordic ski coaches were organized, and coaches from all over the northeast came to COC to learn, to share, and to network with other coaches and instructors from big and small outdoor Nordic centers, and adaptive sports programs. Everyone learned so much, and many were inspired to put their knowledge and experience to work as soon as they got back home,
Today, the Green Mountain Adaptive Sports Adaptive Nordic Ski Program is thriving. Despite Mother Nature not being particularly kind to cross country skiers in the past couple of winters, the COC has pulled miracles to provide adaptive participants with cognitive, behavioral, and physical disabilities a safe facility to enjoy their kick and glide sessions with trained adaptive ski coaches.
“Before my stroke, I was an avid Nordic skier. Getting back on skis was scary the first time, I was very afraid of falling. My instructor Davis was amazing, giving me tips and making me try different pieces of adaptive equipment. It helped build my confidence, I am now pushing myself, and improving. I love being back on skis,” shares Joe Zuccarello, a Waterbury resident who receives a scholarship to get lessons and ski at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center.
The flexibility, and adaptability of the program has also been a huge benefit for busy families, and those traveling a long distance to get to COC. “My daughter struggles to participate in sports or other physical activities due to both her visual and vestibular challenges. We have not been able to find a sport or activity that she can regularly participate in without severe impacts to her learning and other life pursuits. Nordic skiing with the guiding harness is, so far, the most accessible form of exercise (with all of its attendant benefits) for her. She is homeschooled and does not have access to adaptive PE or any other school-based supports for physical activities,” shares a Calais mom.
Of course, the many benefits of sports are hard to measure, but all around, this mother of a young Shelburne wheelchair user who has had a very positive experience with his sit-ski lessons at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center states, ” this scholarship enables my son to come to ski often during this beautiful winter. He loves to be outside and loves to be active. Being physical is something that is very important, brings him delight and offers winter joy. This stimulates him, makes him happy and keeps him more engaged in life. It makes all the difference in our family.”
If you’d like to get involved as a participant, as an instructor, or as a volunteer, please join us at the Nordic Ski Open House at Craftsbury Outdoor Center on Sunday, January 14, from 1:30-3:00pm. The event is free, and Nordic ski equipment will be available for families to join the sessions. Homemade cookies and hot chocolate will be served.
All participants need to pre-register for the Nordic Ski Open House by filling out this form.
To register to receive a scholarship for a day ticket, a season pass, or lessons at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, read more and fill out the form on this page.
Questions? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Consider making a year-end donation to support Green Mountain Adaptive Sports by clicking here.