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‘Ski buddies’ allow disabled residents to take to the slopes

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Siskiyou Daily News, December 31, 2009

The Shasta Disabled Sports USA “ski buddies” will take to the slopes again this year, giving special needs residents the chance to ski on the slopes of Mt. Shasta with a trained helper, a press release announced this week. The group will hold two training sessions this month for those interested in becoming ski buddies.

Shasta Disabled Sports USA is hosting the first of two ski buddy training events on Sunday, Jan. 10 from 10 a.m to 1 p.m. at the Mt. Shasta Ski Park. The second and final ski buddy training event of the 2009/2010 ski season will take place Sunday, Jan. 24.

The goal of Shasta DS/USA’s Ski Buddy program is to connect expert volunteer skiers with those with disabilities who may need assistance or are looking for some company while out on the slopes. This program enables members of the community with special needs to reach their greatest level of independence on the slopes and engenders a sense of adventure and self-determination for all participants and volunteers, the release stated.

According to the release, Northern California has a sizable disabled population with a high demand for adaptive sports and recreation opportunities, of which Shasta DS/USA does their best to fill. Many of its ski program participants travel from as far away as Shasta, Tehama and Humboldt counties for the chance to ski on Mt. Shasta for a couple of hours with a ski buddy.

The training events are designed to teach volunteers to become ski buddies, who are matched with appropriate disabled individuals on an as-needed basis and according to each person’s level of experience and comfort. As a ski buddy trainee, DS/USA will instruct volunteers on how to assist skiers with mono-ski and bi-ski equipment, as well as how to assist skiers with visual impairments and cognitive disabilities.

“We help volunteers clarify in what way they can help. We work one-on-one with participants and volunteers until both are comfortable,” DS/USA secretary and co-founder Donna Boyd said.

Ski buddy candidates should be expert skiers comfortable on green, blue and black terrain, and their qualified trainers will check them off in one or more ski buddy disciplines of their choice before matching them with a disabled member of the community.

Veteran ski buddies are encouraged to attend these training events each year to refresh their skills. This program is supported by the Mt. Shasta Ski Park by providing DS/USA’s ski buddies with a free lift ticket for days they volunteer and a lift ticket voucher for another day.

Call (530) 925-1531 or e-mail info@shastadsusa.org for more details or to attend either of the ski buddy training events.