SKI WITH A YETI
Inclusive Snow Sports and Additional needs – there are no limits!
People with additional needs (hidden disabilities) encounter challenges every day, often in situations that many of us take for granted, such as a trip to the shops, a meal with friends or a family day out. Facing new environments, interacting with other people or being part of a team may not come naturally, causing frustration, anxiety and low self-esteem.
Based out of The Snow Centre, Snowbility’s aim is to enrich the lives of students, parents, carers and teachers we work with, by giving people with additional needs and rehabilitation challenges the opportunity to develop both emotionally and physically through skiing and snowboarding.
The sense of freedom and electricity that you will all feel when you are on the slopes is the same feeling that our students get when they ski from the top of our indoor slope. Where else would you want to be !!.
Our aim is to fulfil the potential of every student, giving them a newfound confidence and a sense of pride and personal achievement. Living in the moment.
So what is Inclusive Snow Sports :
Inclusive Snowports is different to adaptive snow ports which is a vital and valuable element of snow sports and addresses a huge number of disabled skiers and snowboarders with equipment that is truly life changing.
The best way to understand Inclusive Snow Sports is to hear from one of my students Chase Patterson who was shown on Ski Sunday in 2018 with Ed Leigh and Graham Bell
Inclusive caters to people who don’t think or learn like the majority. Regardless of our additional needs, we are just individuals.
The way we experience the world is fundamentally different, and so the way we, and those who teach us approach snow sports must be different.
We have such a wide variety of presentations with so many different things potentially affecting us that a short section on an adaptive course won’t usually be enough.
There are some great Autism programmes around the world, but the majority of adaptive courses just don’t cover what you need to know about the challenges of Autism.
With any ASD or learning disability it’s not just the sport or how we learn that’s the problem. The whole environment is a constant challenge.
Snowsports have huge advantages over other sports for people with sensory issues in that snow deadens sound and limits smells which can otherwise cause a sports environment to be too overwhelming.
Physically it can do wonders too – it’s well known that students with autism or learning disabilities can have low muscle tone and issues with balance and proprioception – the body’s ability to perceive its own position in space. Its so important for us to be active and build core strength.
Snowsports are incredible for those issues. Lots of autistic students hate being sweaty and will avoid physical activity for this reason, but being in the cold will limit this making them able to do more for longer.
The physical benefits and sensory advantages give snowsports a unique potential to help students with autism and learning disabilities IF instructors and resorts can support the rest of the experience.
It takes time to understand why things are difficult for us, but that investment at the beginning from instructors and resorts who can not only provide teaching that we will understand, but also the patience and understanding to make us feel safe will let us excel in the power of snow sports.
And even further than that, gaining confidence in an environment and having instructors that understand, helps people with cognitive issues with their language and processing skills.
A supportive environment can help these students to become more functional in every day to day areas of their life.
Because at the end of the day, the world is so difficult for us. It’s scary and we experience more than our fair share of failure.
Being properly supported so we can succeed at something contributes hugely to our confidence and self esteem.
And when you get it right, when you get into a rhythm, gliding down a mountain is the most free you will ever feel. Getting any experience of that is going to do wonders for all of us who find everything else so hard. It really is life changing and we really do feel the electricity you gain through snow sports.
CHASE PATTERSON – SNOWBILITY STUDENT
Helping every student achieve their own personal goals – Anything is possible
At Snowbility we work individually with each student, taking the time to understand their personality to form a relationship based on trust and respect. Our team of fully qualified ski and snowboard instructors has the knowledge, experience and passion to provide tailor-made coaching for a wide range of complex physical, psychological and mental health needs, including learning disabilities, autism, dyspraxia, deafness and visual impairment.
The coaching methods we use go way beyond teaching our students to ski or snowboard; through our understanding of every individual, we can read how they will react, whilst developing their non-verbal communication skills, ability to balance and continuously building their confidence by charting and rewarding their progress. Our job is to encourage and enhance the natural abilities in every student by teaching in a fun, exciting and relaxed environment.
How you can make a difference to your community:
Of course everyone is busy just trying to survive and achieve for themselves – but don’t let your success cause you to lose your willingness to test yourself in news ways that can make a difference to those with hidden disabilities in your community anywhere in the world.
- Do a mental health first aid course
- Keep your eyes open to opportunities to help just one more person find snow sports
- For those with additional needs – funding is a major issue. So help them by helping us generate funding at The Snow Sports Foundation – Charity number 1158955.
- If you see others being involved in additional needs in schools or sports or life skills– let me know – we should all be collaborating and supporting each other.
- Come to the Snow Centre and see what we do, or if your interested or have an idea just get in touch. We are just at the end of an email, phone or zoom.
- Help us make a difference through social media.
To find out how Snowbility can help you, please contact me Richard Fetherston at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01442 773007.