Teaching Those Who Are Physically Disabled How to Ski
March 14, 2023
Fifty years ago, Peter fell in love with skiing when he and his wife Jill traveled to Austria for a winter sports holiday. “We went skiing,” Peter discloses, “and it’s been a lifelong love ever since. I love the freedom it gives you.”
Now happily retired at The Manor at York Town, Peter’s love for skiing continues to deepen as a volunteer instructor with The Pennsylvania Center for Adapted Sports (PCAS). Every winter, for the past 15 years, he has helped people with disabilities experience the benefits of skiing at Camelback Mountain in the Poconos.
“When I started helping, I realized it was a mission in life for me,” expresses Peter. “I was able to give people who thought they would never be able to play a sport or ski the opportunity to do something they thought they couldn’t do.”
Spreading Joy and Achievement
The PCAS program includes people with a wide variety of disabilities. Each lesson starts with an assessment to ensure that the equipment and instruction fit the individual’s disability. After the assessment, Peter takes his student to the snowy slopes where they may need to overcome self-doubt.
“They’ll say, ‘I know I’m not going to be able to do this,’ and then we get them out on the hill, they’re skiing, and they’re having fun. They come back with a smile on their face, saying, ‘When can I do it again?’ And that happens on the very first day,” Peter shares. “I love seeing the joy in their achievement.”
Making Indelible Memories
The people he meets leave indelible memories, such as a teenage student who felt uncertain about their ability to ski. By the end, he watched his student confidently ski, then make plans for the high school ski trip.
Another time, he instructed a 72-year-old woman who had lost a leg to cancer. “She came to me and said, ‘I can’t ski.’ I said, ‘Nonsense! Of course, you can ski. Here’s how you do it!’ Her son skied with her that day. “It was a lovely family experience for them,” Peter reflects. “The students get a great deal of pleasure from being out and doing the same thing as everybody else.”
The people, and these experiences, bring Peter back every year. Indeed, volunteering and giving back remain fixtures in Peter’s life. “It’s important to me,” Peter says. “I’m blessed that I’m able to give back. The paycheck is the smile on their faces.”
More information about PA Center for Adapted Sports is on their website at www.centeronline.com.