New Baldy program makes mountain sports accessible for those with disabilities

By on March 16, 2018

Adaptive ski instructor Bryce Beckett helps Megan, 11, get ready for a run down the hill. Beckett is organizing Baldy Blue Jays Adaptive Sports, a program that will support people with physical and cognitive disabilities to access mountain sports. (Photo submitted)

A new program at Baldy Mountain Resort is aiming to make the hill more accessible for everyone, specifically those with disabilities.

Baldy Mountain Resort and Kelowna-based non-profit People in Motion have announced the establishment of an adaptive sports program at Baldy in time for next season.

Baldy Blue Jays Adaptive Sports will support people with physical and cognitive disabilities to access mountain sports.

Baldy instructor Bryce Beckett, who is leading the project and has worked with five clients already, described the community as “good vibes central.”

“It’s already been one of the most meaningful experiences of my life, and the adaptive community is full of so many amazing folks,” he said.

Beckett said that with the closest mountain offering an adaptive program being Big White in Kelowna, Baldy is filling a “dead zone” for services in the South Okanagan.

But most of all, Beckett credits Baldy’s positive family-orientated atmosphere to making it the “perfect place” for the program.

“Everything here is a group effort and the community wants everyone to be having a great time and wants no one left out.”

The program’s name — Baldy Blue Jays Adaptive Sports — honours Jay Ozanne, Baldy’s first adaptive athlete. Ozanne’s motor skills were impacted since birth, affecting his ability to participate in sports. But as a child Ozanne would ride a snow trike on the slopes and eventually make regular trips to the top of the lift by snow shoe to greet guests.

“Jay’s determination and the support of his family to maximize his participation is the perfect example of the spirit of this program, aimed at sharing the mountain experience with as many people as we can, regardless of limitations,” said Sam Smith, long term Baldy resident, ski instructor and former general manager.

Beckett is currently planning and organizing the program for next season; facilities at the mountain need to be modified to be wheelchair accessible and equipment for adaptive athletes needs to be secured.

The program is volunteer driven and Beckett is looking for the community’s help, especially those interested in participating as instructors.

BC Adaptive Snowsports is providing subsidized training for volunteers to achieve their adaptive teaching certification.

Volunteers are also needed to help with fundraisers and the building of ramps in and around the facility.

Groups and organizations supporting people with physical and cognitive impairments are encouraged to contact Beckett to help identify the first round of clients for next year.

Tax deductible donations can also be made through People in Motion.

For more information, contact Bryce Beckett at baldymountainadaptivesports@gmail.com.

Adaptive ski instructor Bryce Beckett and Megan, 11, enjoy the views atop Mount Baldy. (Photo submitted)

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