Watching the Olympics allows me (and no doubt others) to experience those inspirational highs and those heartbreaking lows that come with dreams achieved or dreams shattered. As a former athlete I know how many hours/years of training and sacrifice that are required and willingly put in, to get to a high level. Some achieve it, others don’t but all aspire. Family members, close friends, coaches, volunteers, sponsors….it takes a village to create an Olympian.
For the Paralympian and the Special Olympian this is even more true. By the time either of these athletes get to this point they and their families have for the most part already overcome years of pain and anguish, perhaps as a result of a traumatic injury or illness. Financial challenges are common as special needs require special services and these usually require not only the ability to get access to them but the financial means to do so. Depression, isolation, lack of education, stigma, lack of awareness, lack of services, equipment or programs in the area, potential ongoing health issues…these are just the tip of the iceberg for many families and athletes. When one considers the arduous and long (usually years) journey these athletes have made just to enter or re-enter into society let alone thrive, that truly is the embodiment of the Olympic Spirit.
Grass root sport programs foster dreams for so many people. Whether as a youth, an adult, recreational or competitive, adaptive or able-bodied, this is where many people get their start.
Vancouver, British Columbia, is home to one such incredible program. VASS (Vancouver Adaptive Snow Sports) celebrated their 40th Anniversary last year. This program relies heavily on the good graces and vision of supportive ski hill organizations, volunteers (teachers, program coordinators, board members and more), sponsors and students. Without all of these components and so many more, these programs could not exist. And while there is always more that can and needs to be done, there is so much to be thankful for. In Vancouver there is always a waiting list for students who want to participate in the snow sport programs. The word is getting out and the program is gaining in popularity. The goal is to give everyone the opportunity to participate who has the desire no matter the end goal. Please help us achieve that objective!!!
You can read more about VASS and the BC Adaptive Snow Sports program in Explore Magazine.
Be part of this “village”