Telluride Adaptive Sports is proud to announce an incredibly successful two day program benefiting students with disabilities from the Saint Michael’s School for Special Education in the Navajo Nation.
This program not only exposed St. Michael’s students to the joys and wonders of winter adventure, but incorporated local 5th and 6th graders from the Telluride Mountain School and employed them as enthusiastic and highly effective volunteer assistant instructors. Mountain Schoolers had been prepping for the event for weeks. Preparations included on-snow training at TASP to gain an understanding of various adaptive tools and techniques, as well as develop a familiarity with disability etiquette and sensitivity. This hands-on experience, coupled with a classroom discussion, proved the Mountain School students to be incredibly thoughtful and sensitive individuals and very much ready to take on the responsibility of being an assistant instructor with the program.
On the first of two lesson days, the energy in the office was tangible as Mountain School volunteers met their TASP lead instructors and ran through their goals, game-plan, and teaching progressions of the day. Many TMS students admitted to being nervous and apprehensive, but as soon as the students from St. Michael’s came through the door, the room was ablaze with conversation and laughter as everyone got geared up for their first run of the day.
St Michael’s students quickly picked up where they left off last year (the program happens annually) and, with the help of their energetic assistant instructors, honed skills and techniques, all the while laughing, dancing, and playing. At the end of the day, it was difficult to tell if everyone’s legs were more sore from a full day of skiing or faces were more sore from endless smiles and laughter.
Day 2 saw much more improvement and the continuation of great spirits although many were surprised by how quickly the exciting program had to wind down. The closing ceremonies saw each participant awarded with certificates that were covered in well wishes and congratulations from teachers, instructors, and staff. Instructors were able to say a few words as to their participant’s progress and milestones and the speeches were overflowing with pride and encouragement. One TMS student even read a long letter to her participant aloud, thanking him for his leap of faith (to come skiing and trust her as an instructor) and how closely bonded a friendship they now have.
These ceremonies, plus a St. Michael’s student’s birthday, had everyone wanting the day to go on forever, but school and other responsibilities called to both Mountain School and St. Michael students alike. After long drawn out hugs and goodbyes, and maybe a teary eye or two, everyone went their separate ways with a common treasured experience and already a glimmer of excitement looking forward to next years program.