my Mountain News

Unique Silver Star Program Helps the Disabled to Ski and Snowboard

Tue, 02/11/2004 - 12:00 am

Contributed by Andrew Mather

Silver Star Adaptive Snow Sports (S.S.A.S.S.) was started in 1992 as a local association of volunteer instructors who ‘shared their joy’ of skiing and now snowboarding by teaching persons with disabilities. We endeavor to ensure that all students take maximum advantage of the abilities they possess to enjoy snow sports. Today, we are now a non-profit society registered in BC. If the Silver Star Adaptive Snow Sports program did not exist, literally hundreds of Valley disabled persons would not be able to experience the thrill of skiing or snowboarding at Silver Star Mountain Resort, an experience that the able-bodied too often take for granted!

The Silver Star Adaptive Snow Sports mandate is to provide free lessons and adaptive equipment to those who are disabled and those who cannot afford the ski-lift portions of our program. S.S.A.S.S. is also committed to providing the disabled with opportunities for social networking, skill learning and self-esteem building. Volunteers are our most valuable resource, and we are constantly enrolling people who share their love of snow sports. By giving of their time, talents and treasures to teach and raise money for individuals with disabilities, they enrich the lives of not only the disabled skiers, but able-bodied skier inspired by their example.

S.S.A.S.S. works closely with the staff of one of the top rated Ski and Board Schools in Canada at Silver Star Mountain Resort. In turn, we provide a valuable service by teaching people with all forms of disabilities to ski and snowboard. Students of all ages, from the Thompson-Okanagan region, register for an eight lesson program, which runs Saturdays and weekdays from January to March each year.

Over eighty public schools from this region have now been fully integrated with children with disabilities. Silver Star provides these schools with affordable means for students from grades 6 and 7s to come learn to ski and board. In turn, S.S.A.S.S. has been teaching those school children with disabilities and providing an important service to Silver Star for more than seven years. Not only has our program helped these students physically; it has been proven to help them socially and emotionally at school and in their home life.

Out-of town Silver Star Mountain Resort guests with disabilities, who come from all over the world, are also taught by S.S.A.S.S., in exchange for a voluntary donation to our organization. We have successfully taught satisfied Silver Star guests with disabilities, from all parts of Canada, Great Britain, Australia, U.S.A. and even Israel.

Safety is our number one priority and S.S.A.S.S. has worked closely with the Silver Star Ski Patrol. We have provided adaptive sit-ski equipment and volunteer instructors for their required lift evacuation training procedures, for 5 years. Video tapes have been produced of these procedures and have been shown to new patrollers and other patrol units at Big White and Sun Peaks Resort S.S.A.S.S. also trains its instructors with the Canadian Association of Disabled Skiers certification courses, which is part of Alpine Canada. Numerous volunteer instructors have also been certified by the Canadian Ski Instructors’ Alliance and Canadian Association of Snowboard Instructors.