Do you remember the first time you ever went skiing? I do, I was 8 years old and we went to Falls Creek on a family holiday to the sound track of Men at Work. I was instantly hooked and fell in love with skiing and the snow that week, and as soon as I could drive I tried to make it to the snow every year, even if it meant getting up at 4am to drive to Mt Buller for the day.
Most of us take for granted the fact that we can just jump into the car and go skiing or snowboarding for the day. Have you ever thought about people with a disability, those who are less able bodied and use a wheelchair to get around. How would they go about getting onto the snow to experience the thing that has so many of us hooked?
Skiing or boarding is such an addictive thing that so many of us love. With DWA (Disabled Wintersport Australia), many kids and adults with a disability are able to experience skiing as well.
My first experience as a DWA volunteer was in 2011 with a group from Cerebral Palsy Alliance. Last week I volunteered with DWA and the Cerebral Palsy Alliance camp again at Thredbo. There were seven participants, each having a mentor through the ING DIRECT Australia’s Ignition Mentoring program, there were also many helpers and staff from Cerebral Palsy Alliance.
I was assisting Ruby, 15 years old from Sydney, with the help of mentor Jade. It was Ruby’s third time skiing. She was loving it and after two days on snow, she was nailing her turns.
The time and effort involved in just getting this crew onto the snow is huge. Adaptive vehicles, equipment i.e. wheelchairs and sit skis, lots of assistants, carers, helpers and volunteers, patience and a good sense of humour are all needed. My hat goes off to all those involved and those who continue to offer support to these organisations for this experience to be possible like: Kosciuszko Thredbo, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, and ING DIRECT Australia who fully funded this trip.
Skiing/snowboarding is something that so many of us love and try to improve every year, having lessons or just free skiing with friends. Many of the DWA participants have difficulties walking, but with the aid of a sit ski and a DWA volunteer, they too can get that amazing feeling and exhilaration that makes skiing addictive. Every man, woman and child should get the opportunity to experience what fun skiing can be. DWA make it possible for those that are less able bodied.
To this day ‘Who Can It Be Now’ will forever remind me of my first trip to the snow. Thanks to DWA, skiing memories are also being made for those with a disability. The smiles on their faces, the joy and excitement from the participants make it all worth being a DWA volunteer. DWA is making more skiing memories for me too.
DWA are always looking for volunteers. For more information on being a DWA volunteer go to www.disabledwintersport.com.au