With all this snow we have been getting in New England over the last week, I figured it was time to share with the BAC community my experience this winter as a first-year volunteer in the Waterville Valley Adaptive Sports Program. Much like how the BAC uses fun, function, and adventure to facilitate growth and establish relationships among its patients, adaptive skiing allows its skiers and snowboarders to do the same.
To quote their program mission, Waterville Valley Adaptive Sports is dedicated to empowering individuals with disabilities through access and instruction in sports and recreation for life. They encourage freedom and self-reliance through experiential opportunities in a safe and supportive environment with highly trained staff and volunteers. The program enriches the lives of everyone involved, resulting in a profound and lasting impact on individualism, health and well-being.
So far this season I have had the opportunity to observe, learn about, and participate in teaching lessons with individuals with a variety of disabilities including Autism, Down Syndrome, visual impairments, and physical limitations. Skiing has been something I have enjoyed for my entire life! It is an activity that all family members can participate in, it incorporates physical activity, and is a great reason to get outside! Every Sunday, I drive up to Waterville Valley Resort, assist in teaching an adaptive ski lesson, and drive home. It has been incredibly crazy but in the best way possible as I feel it has expanded my skill set as a clinician while sharing something I have always found meaningful with others!
I could go on forever explaining all the benefits of skiing, but there are some that I find incredibly applicable to the world of OT. They include working as a team with your student to plan your lesson, facilitating safety through planning and timing movements through a variety of adaptive techniques, navigating what can sometimes be busy environments, utilizing a variety of muscle groups to maintain correct positioning, and demonstrating emotional flexibility towards uncontrollable circumstances such as the weather, snow conditions, incorporating necessary clothing or equipment, and other people on the slopes.
As an OT, I see patients make immense progress and find meaning through hard work, supportive caregivers, and AMAZING BAC therapists daily, both in the clinic as well as at our partnership schools. The greatest joy I find though is when I see patients use their interests to reach their goals, whether it be building a ninja obstacle course, pretending the hammock is a rocket ship, or skiing down the slopes!
Skiing is my chosen leisure activity that helps me achieve my own goals of growing as a clinician, improving my technique, and watching individuals experience what the mountains have to offer. It has been a gift to share in the experience of others who may not have had the opportunity to experience it without such a fantastic organization. The Waterville Valley Program truly takes the time to provide a supportive, professional, and a family-centered experience to all those involved, including those who choose to volunteer.
Please feel free to reach out via email if you would like to learn more or connect with the staff at the Waterville Valley Adaptive program. Also please find a link below to their annual Ski-A-Thon fundraiser coming up this Saturday, February 23rd. To make a donation please visit:
See you on the slopes!
Janine, MS, OTR/L