SkiAbility ski program

From Water Ski and Wakeboard Canada  

Are You "Ski-Able"?

Are you "ski-able"? Absolutely. Everyone is "ski-able." Thanks to extensive work done by a number of key individuals, water ski equipment and training is available for people of all abilities. Your next question should be: "Is my local ski school, camp, or club "ski-able"?

Water Ski and Wakeboard Canada (WSWC) officially launched SkiAbility in June 2005. The program focuses on increasing participation in water skiing and other towed water sports for persons with a disability.

SkiAbility is a comprehensive clinic outreach program, whereby trained SkiAbility clinic facilitators deliver clinics and lessons to skiers of different ages with different types of disabilities. The intent is to have multiple clinics delivered in different locations in every province across Canada.

There is an estimated 3.4 million Canadians with a disability. Currently, this population is under-represented in the world of towed water sports, largely for reasons of limited access, minimal programming and lack of awareness and knowledge on the part of both activity providers and persons with a disability.

In Our Values, which you can find under Who We Are on the main WSWC website, WSWC professes the belief that every person has a right to participate in sport and pursue excellence. To meet that end, SkiAbility program leaders are located across the country, either working at their own schools/clubs, or ready to deliver clinics upon demand.

One such "ski-able" school operates out of Haliburton, Ontario. Craig Bowker at Ski-Mazing Water Sports and his crew were trained last year and have access to equipment when needed. Craig can be contacted at craig@skiwakefootschool.com.

In Québec, the Eastern Townships Disabled Skiers Foundation has been in operation since the inception of SkiAbility in 2005. Benoit Lessard, one of our adapted national team athletes, got his start with the ETDSF program. For more information on this program, please contact Peter Treacy at ptreacy@fshe.org.

SkiAbility Ottawa services the Ottawa Valley with a summer-long program. Created in 2005, the program has doubled in size each year and is excited to meet the growing demand of adapted towed water sports. For more information on this program, please contact SAOinfo@gmail.com or visit www.skiabilityottawa.ca.

SkiAbility was launched in Nova Scotia during the summer of 2005 and clinics have taken place each summer since then. Beginner and recreational clinics are held approximately 2-3 times throughout the summer on Lake Charles in Dartmouth. In the coming years, the goal is to expand to a more regular, competitive program, while still having a beginner component and to branch out to do clinics all over Nova Scotia. For more information on SkiAbility opportunities in Nova Scotia, please contact Shannon Bowie at bowie_shannon@hotmail.com.

There are also excellent programs up and running in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. In the Winnipeg area there are regular open nights on Thursdays (a great way to try out SkiAbility for the first time). For more info, contact Darrin Luke at dsluke@shaw.ca. Saskatchewan also has an excellent program in Saskatoon and is planning a clinic in the Regina area. For information on SkiAbility opportunities in Saskatchewan, please contact LeRoss Calnek at leross@calnek.com.

Unfortunately, while SkiAbility is still a relatively young program, there are sure to be certain areas of the country where we do not yet have trained program leaders and instructors, but we have trainers in almost every province who are willing and ready to travel to these areas to get individuals and clubs up-to-date and "ski-able."

This upcoming summer, one of our adapted national team coaches, Chris Holden, is headed to the Okanagan region of BC to train new instructors in the area and help to make BC water sports clubs "ski-able." This clinic will take place on July 5-6 at the Lake Country Board & Ski Club in Kelowna. For more information on this event, contact Chris Holden at crholden@h-htech.com.

A common misconception is that SkiAbility programs only cater to sit-skiers. This is simply not true. SkiAbility is a program designed to be inclusive to all members of the disabled community whether physically or intellectually disabled. Across Canada, we have athletes participating and competing in wakeboarding, barefoot and all forms of classic water skiing with visual impairments and leg and/or arm amputations in addition to sit skiers.

For those clubs who are not yet "ski-able", now is the time to take that step. One in twelve Canadians has a disability. Don't be fooled by the "dis" in disability. Most individuals with a disability are not only thrilled to get involved in sport, but once involved are enthusiastic ambassadors that want to share the passion.

You simply need to extend the invitation. Bringing water sports to all people is what SkiAbility is all about.

We can't do this without your support! Help us demonstrate that everyone has the right to participate in sport and get out there and ask your local ski school if they are "ski-able."

SkiAbility is made possible with the financial assistance of Sport Canada's Sport Participation Development Program.

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