Gaining independence back through adaptive skiing
The non-profit is staffed by volunteers and is open seven days a week at Mount Sunapee Resort in Newbury. It also offers an outreach program with instructors who will travel with equipment to other mountains to provide lessons.
"People come in and we identify what piece is missing and how we can supplement with adaptive equipment or training ...," he said.
NEHSA has 58 pieces of equipment that fit all types of body sizes. They include a sit ski that utilizes one ski called a mono ski, a bi ski that uses two skis and a rider bar for a snowboard that is waist-level and allows the snowboarder who may have mobility or balance issues to have contact with the snowboard using two feet and two arms.
Typically, NEHSA has 60 lessons a day on weekends and 20 on weekdays. Last year, the association provided 7,000 hours of snowsports and 2,000 hours of kayaking lessons. It offers services to hundreds of families, disabled veterans and Special Olympians.
"We loaded the truck up with equipment and 11 instructors and drove down for lessons. It's an under-served population so we went and did it," Kersey said.
"Some schools have skiing as an option for gym class, but children with special needs are shut out," Kersey said. "Mountains call us and we find out the needs and send the right equipment and instructors to facilitate the lessons for them."
"It's all about growth and seeing a new volunteer come in and wanting to make a difference in someone's life and giving them the tools to help change someone's life," he said.
Other adaptive ski programs include Crotched Mountain Accessible Recreation and Sports (CMARS), New England Disabled Sports at Loon Mountain and Adaptive Sports Partners of the North Country (ASPNC) at Cannon Mountain.
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