Are you thinking about volunteering for Whistler Adaptive Sports Program? Help changes lives. Become a volunteer today! Start by filling out our Volunteer Application Form.
I got involved with Whistler Adaptive soon after moving to Whistler. I’d worked with the Special Olympics in my hometown and thought it would be a good way to get involved in the community. While I expected it to be a rewarding experience, I didn’t realize that volunteering with Whistler Adaptive would become one of the defining experiences of my time in Whistler.
It’s impossible to talk about Whistler Adaptive without talking about the staff: the programs are run by some of the most dedicated, caring people I met in Whistler. It’s no exaggeration to say that these people (program directors, coaches, volunteers) work tirelessly to ensure that each and every athlete has a fun and fulfilling experience.
Of course, the athletes are also an integral part of the program’s success. As much as Whistler is full of athletic, positive, lively personalities, so too is Whistler Adaptive. I never ceased to be amazed by the tenacity of our athletes, who were completely unwilling to accept the “limits” life had thrown at them.
Sadly I was only in Whistler for a few short months. But, on my last day volunteering with Whistler Adaptive, one of the athletes I had worked with all summer gave me a drawing of a bear on a snowboard. More than anything else I brought home from Whistler, this picture stands out as especially meaningful. Now framed and hanging on my wall, it constantly reminds me of the wonderful people and experiences that make Whistler, and especially Whistler Adaptive, special and the many reasons I can't wait to come back.
I first got involved with Whistler Adaptive in winter 2011/2012. As a ski instructor it is always great to see improvements and advances in a pupil, and being able to watch and help children and adults with physical and cognitive disabilities discover a sport is outright, the most rewarding work I have done.
Seeing the expression on a child’s face the first time they make it down a green run on their own is something you can never forget. Furthermore, seeing the delight on a parent’s face can be as rewarding. I worked with Tom this winter for a week. Tom can get quite anxious at trying new things and liked to keep to routine he knew. At the start of the week we did a green run, and he was positive that it would be the only run he did the whole vacation, he would follow my turns and not make any skiing decisions on his own. By the last day, Tom was leading me down black runs. He did it willingly and with a smile on his face, I don’t know who was more proud, his parents or me!
In my opinion, the athletes who come out with Whistler Adaptive are some of the most excited and energized for their day ahead. The ‘gang’ that come out in summer are best friends and great athletes. Their determination and ‘can-do’ attitudes are refreshing and fantastic to be involved with. Whistler Adaptive has given them the opportunity to be involved in any sport they wish in an environment that is most beneficial to them. Every Whistler Adaptive day is a new day. There is never two days the same, and that’s what makes it fun and challenging to be a part of.
The progress that can be made in a sporting environment can often directly correlate with daily situations. It can give people confidence in themselves that they had never experienced before. I feel very privileged to be able to be a part of this experience.
Having done my first few volunteer days with Whistler Adaptive in the summer of 2013 I knew when I left I had to come back to be in there in a bigger way. They were more than accommodating. With a few phone calls and emails over the winter I had set up a four month internship working full time from January until April.
The work they do in and around the community is important for everyone – athletes and volunteers alike. One of my best memories and one that continues to stand out for me is from summer 2013.
We had a large group of us head out to kayak on the Lillooet River and I was still rather new with the group. We had one individual who needed to be in a double kayak. I was more than happy to take him with me and Whistler Adaptive had the confidence in me to allow it. We came to one section in the river with a small set of rapids and after a bit of convincing and seeing a few others go first, I had my kayak partner ready to give the rapids a try. It was his first time through the rapids, but his second time on the river. He smiled the rest of the trip and we both laughed our way through the rapids. In that he and I both gained a sense of courage as well as triumph – him for taking on the rapids and me for trusting myself to safely guide us through them.
Whistler Adaptive provides opportunities for individuals to explore their potential, learn new things and get out there! Children and adults alike can all find common ground in being a beginner and learning to do something new.
Over the last winter during our Soldier On camp, I was assisting another coach in the Nordic ski program. We had a lady who had put cross-country skis on for the first time on Tuesday and was not sure she wanted to come back for more Wednesday. By Friday we couldn’t get her to leave. She had found her “thing” – something she may never had thought to try before, but had now become a new passion. She spent the afternoon Saturday writing down the names of the equipment and telling me about where she can make trails when she gets back home.
This program enriches the lives of everyone it touches and provides new possibilities that may have seemed out of reach for these athletes before.
Help changes lives. Become a volunteer today! Start by filling out our Volunteer Application Form