Baldy Blue Jays

 

Mission statement:

Removing barriers for people with physical, cognitive and sensory disabilities in accessing mountain sports.

 

Baldy Mountain Bluejays Adaptive Sports offers unique skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing opportunities for individuals with physical, cognitive and sensory disabilities at Baldy Mountain Resort. Our program consists of a team of certified volunteer instructors who are trained to be innovative and creative in adapting teaching methods for our students. Whether our students are stand-up skiers/snowboarders or sit skiers, we are prepared to adapt to their needs.

 

We expect to expand to 4 seasons of programs as we grow, so let us know if you’re ready and wanting more mountain sport programs.

TESTIMONIALS

“We are so grateful sit skiing is now an option at Mt. Baldy, so one of our family of five is not left behind. The instructor was very supportive in introducing our son to it as gradually as he needed.” -Lisa Needoba

 

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“My name is Kelsey General and I am a single mom to two boys with autism living in Penticton, BC. Brentley is 5 and severely impacted by autism in addition to a genetic condition that affects his motor movements and coordination, while Lincoln is 4 and more mildly impacted by autism. 

 

We began with the Baldy Bluejays Adaptive program in the 2018-2019 season and have been happy to continue with them this year in the 2019-2020 season. When we began in early 2019 Lincoln had never been skiing before, and Brentley had some exposure to snowboarding but was mostly unsafe while riding. Through that first season we worked with various volunteers who were all happy to be there, willing to learn and in the end helped both boys not only have fun but increase their skills. Both boys were excited to start up again this year! This year we were met with the same kindness, knowledge and willingness to learn as last year. Every volunteer has been open to learning about what works for my boys, has accepted them and has taught them new skills on their snowboards. I cannot tell you how rare this attitude is in extracurricular activities for the boys. Brentley’s major struggle has always been stopping and controlling his board. When he first started he was dangerous in that , without a leash, he would bomb down a hill without stopping. Now, Brentley can control his board, stop on command and is starting to recognize on his own when he needs to stop. Lincoln was very scared to be on snow, did not want to participate and was generally reluctant to attend. Lincoln now looks forward to his weekly lessons and feels immense pride and confidence in his progress. 

 

So why does this all matter? As a single mom, I have many barriers that stop me from sharing my love of snowboarding with my kids. Financially, putting both my kids into private lessons weekly is unattainable, it is far too expensive and neither of my kids would be able to learn in a group environment. Being able to go weekly for the low cost of lift tickets and the lesson has been a number 1 reason in why we have been able to attend and we are so grateful. Logistically it is near impossible for me, as one person, to take 2 boys with high needs snowboarding and teach them myself. I know my kids better than anyone but only have two hands, this is why I have been tremendously thankful for the volunteers and everyone involved who trusts my knowledge of my kids, involves me, learns from me and in turn does a fabulous job teaching them. We couldn’t do any of this without them. 

 

I value experience and adventure and strive to give my kids healthy doses of both. Some experiences are a flop, no one enjoys them no matter how hard I try. The look on both my boys faces when snowboarding is different, they are happy, they are smiling, they are gaining confidence and they are gaining a lifelong leisure skill that would not be available to them without this program. In the South Okanagan there are next to no adaptive programs for individuals with special needs and when a program opens up it is often very costly which prohibits families like mine to participate. Every individual with special needs deserves a life filled with joy, filled with experience, and filled with active leisure skills to keep them healthy as they age. I cannot thank this program enough for what it has given me and my boys. My ultimate goal is to be able for myself and them to gain the skills needed so we can one day snowboard safely as a family and I am pleased to say we are well on our way there. It is my deepest hope that more families can benefit like I have. 

 

Thank you so very much, 

Kelsey General “

 

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“Hello, my name is Chris Cowley. I am 44 years old and was born with Cerebral Palsy that primarily affects my right side.

 

On Saturday and Sunday of this past weekend I had the good fortune of taking lessons on a sit ski for the very first time through BC Adaptive Snow Sports. My wife and children have enjoyed skiing for years and I always wanted to be a part of that, but never knew how until last year when we started exploring the idea of a sit ski. We were very excited when we learned that Mt. Baldy was developing an adaptive ski program. Mt. Baldy is a hill we frequent as my wife’s brother and his family live a short distance from there and have season’s passes.

 

Earlier this year I got in touch with the programs’ director Bryce and set up lessons. I was nervous and excited. I did not know what to expect or how I would be treated. As I sit here now, I find it hard to try and sum up my experience into a few sentences. It was nothing short of amazing. When I first met Bryce and his fellow instructor Lyle I felt like they were good friends. They were very accommodating and patient with me and in what seemed like a very short time, made me feel like I was getting it. After the first lesson I was hooked. I am now looking to purchase my own sit ski.

 

I believe that there are many others, young and old, that would benefit greatly from getting to have the experience I had. There are many barriers for people with disabilities to overcome in order to get to a mountain like Baldy. Programs like the one Bryce oversees are extremely valuable and vital to allowing those like myself to gain confidence and see that a disability doesn’t mean not having fun on a hill. It just means having fun in different ways. Programs like these need help to continue as the instructors are volunteers and the equipment can be expensive. I was able to enjoy two days of instruction and skiing and it didn’t break the bank. I will be back and am confident that one day I will be a fully independent sit skier.

 

Volunteers like Bryce and Lyle are what makes an experience like this memorable and I can say without a doubt, that they are what makes me want to continue learning and working towards my independence.

 

Sincerely, Chris Cowley”

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Removing barriers for people with physical and cognitive disabilities in accessing mountain sports

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