March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness month, a time dedicated to teaching awareness of inclusion in all aspects of life. Shared Ski Adventures (SSA) is an adaptive learn to ski program, run by a local agency, that teaches people with disabilities the skills to become independent skiers. SSA has been around since 1980 and over 800 students with cognitive, mobility, and hearing or vision impairments have benefited from the program during its almost 40 year tenure. The program focuses on capabilities rather than disabilities and employs creative teaching methods and specialized ski equipment to provide a safe space to practice skiing, while promoting physical, mental, and emotional growth.
Programs like this are essential for ensuring people with disabilities have access to live the life they want, which includes having the opportunity to safely participate in he activities they choose.
Michele Barringer is an Engagement Manager at MediSked and has a passion for human services both in the office and in her spare time. For almost 10 years, Michele has been volunteering as a downhill ski instructor each year with SSA. In her own words:
“Volunteering for Shared Ski Adventures has truly been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. Some of my friends were volunteering and I went down to check it out and initially thought it would be a great way to spend time with them and get some skiing in. It has turned out to be so much more than that! It’s an amazing group of people that volunteer and our students and their families become a part of who we are. I look forward to lessons each week during the season and we get together during the off-season because we miss each other so much. The most rewarding part by far for me, is the bond I have with my students and watching how they improve with every lesson and seeing a big smile on their face after every run!”