Snow Sunday: A Different Challenge On The Mountain

When kids grow up skiing in Telluride, it can be hard after a while to find something that challenges them. But challenge is exactly what Telluride Mountain School’s 5th/6th grade class found recently when they headed out to work with the Telluride Adaptive Sports Program (TASP) and the St. Michael’s School for disabled Navajo Children.

Photo Credit: Craig Wasserman

Photo Credit: Craig Wasserman

According to Emily Durkin, one of the core math and science teachers at the Telluride Mountain School and one of the teachers who headed out with the kids to ski, one of most difficult parts of the experience is for TMS students to learn how to slow down and to be explicit in their instructions in a sport that comes second nature to them. “Yet,” she says, “Once they step out of their comfort zone and embrace the opportunity to teach someone how to ski, it’s a memorable experience for everyone.” Kate Spina, Telluride Mountain School’s counselor and another teacher who skied that day, echoes Durkin’s sentiments. “This day is about much more than skiing. Working with the St. Michael’s students gives our own students a chance to access their compassion.”

St. Michael’s School is located in Window Rock, Arizona and currently provides services for about 40 disabled students and adults. The degree of disabilities vary, but roughly half of the students use a wheelchair. The school fundraises extensively to provide this opportunity for their students and to give them the chance to travel and to have new experiences.

DSCN8749Telluride Mountain School students prepare for this adaptive experience by spending a day on the hill with TASP learning how to use a sit ski, bamboo pole, and stand-up outriggers to assist students with skiing. In addition to learning how to use adaptive equipment, students also learned how to guide visually-impaired skiers and how to shield the skier from an accident on the mountain.

The following day, they’re on the hill, working alongside TASP instructors, to test out their skills and to provide that memorable experience Durkin discussed. Indeed, the day is often remembered as one of the capstone experiences of the Telluride Mountain School. Arabella Galbo, one of the 5th graders who skied that day, says that skiing with St. Michael’s kids for the day was life-changing: “We are so lucky to have all our body parts and our brains working correctly. I see the my own world differently because of that day.”

St. Michael’s school is always in need of donated items such a ski clothes for the TASP day and prom dresses for their spring prom. If you would like to donate to St. Michael’s, please contact them here.

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