Eight injured and disabled CF members and Veterans will be strapping on their skis and sit-skis at Mount Washington Feb 1-5 for a “Learn to Ski” program, which will provide these members an opportunity to participate in physical fitness, sport and healthy living.
Mike Spooner, the Executive Director at the Comox Military Family Resource Centre has been a volunteer ski instructor with the Vancouver Island Society for Adaptive Snowsports (VISAS) for six years. VISAS is the non-profit organization that has organized the Learn to Ski week. It was founded in the 1960s, and uses adapted techniques, based on the teaching methodologies of the Canadian Ski Instructors Alliance, and volunteer instructors to introduce hundreds of students to the thrill of learning to ski.
“This is a great opportunity for an individual with disabilities to get the exposure to a physical activity that they may have doubted they would be able to master,” said Spooner. “This learning process and developing a capability is most rewarding to them, it shows them that they can overcome anything. We had one double-amputee who wanted to snowboard with his son, but didn’t think he would be able to. By the end of the week he was on that snowboard going down the mountain with his son. To see that progress was so rewarding for everyone.”
This is the third year for this week-long event, which is a partnership between VISAS, the Soldier On Fund and The Wounded Warriors. It was the brainchild of Mr. Glen Hooge, a VISAS instructor and Master Warrant Officer in the Canadian Forces Reserves, who volunteered for several years with a similar program in the United States. The Soldier On Fund provides resources and opportunities to enable ill and injured CF personnel, former personnel and their families to fully participate in physical activity, recreation and sport. If you see one of these members on the slopes, please wave and say hello.
“For Soldier On, physical fitness is a key fundamental building block for recovery. When someone suffers a serious injury or illness active participation in fitness, sport or recreational activity provides an avenue for their functional independence,” said WO Andrew McLean, Director Casualty Support Management, Soldier On. “Being active supports not only the physical well being of the person but more importantly the psychological well being of the individual. Sport brings us together in a social environment and events such as the VISAS adaptive ski week enforces camaraderie amongst our serving and retired personnel.”
The event would not be as successful without the support of the community. Mount Washington Alpine Resort VISAS will cover all of the on mountain expenses for the week and VISAS will also provide the volunteer ski instructors. Other support has been provided by the Royal Canadian Legions in Bowser, Comox, and Courtenay; the Ladies Auxiliary of the Comox Legion, Barry Vandusen at the Whistle Stop Pub, 888 Wing RCAF Assoc and the many other community members who provide funding for the normal VISAS program through the Herb Bradley Coke Classic.
For more information about VISAS, please visit http://www.visasweb.ca/index.php, for the Soldier On Fund visit http://www.cfpsa.ca/en/psp/SoldierOn/CFSOF_e.asp and for The Wounded Warriors visit http://www.woundedwarriors.ca/.