Paralympic Sport Development Fund helps sit skiers reach new heights at Rocky Mountain Adaptive

"You can’t put a monetary value on the experience and how it is going to positively affect their lives"

OTTAWA – Jamie McCulloch says it is impossible to measure in dollars the value of last year’s grant from the Paralympic Sport Development Fund, a Canadian Paralympic Committee initiative to support the growth of Para sport programming at the community level. 

‘’You can’t put a monetary value on the experience and how it is going to positively affect their lives,’’ said McCulloch, the executive director and general manager of Rocky Mountain Adaptive (RMA). 

‘’A sport like skiing can be quite expensive so we offer a beginner’s camp completely free and that gives people with a disability an opportunity to try a new sport, maybe be on the mountains for the first time, or get back into sports after an accident.’’

With its $15,000 grant from the Paralympic Sport Development Fund, RMA purchased a new cutting edge Dynaccess Tensor Sit Ski and additional enhancements for their other sit skis. 

McCulloch estimates the new sit ski has at least a 10-year usage life and will be a high tech device used by hundreds of people with a disability in their quest to master the slopes. 

‘’It’s an awesome sit ski for our program,’’ said McCulloch. ‘’It has the necessary adjustment that allows a great range of participants to learn on it. It helps us take away another barrier to learn how to ski. Along with the seat size adjustors we purchased with the grant as well, it can accommodate individuals regardless of size, injuries, strengths, or abilities.’’

RMA is a registered, non-profit charity whose aim is to provide individuals with any disability the chance to access all sport and recreational activities in the Canadian Rockies. Based out of Canmore, Alberta, RMA attracts people of all ages with physical, intellectual, cognitive, or developmental impairments to participate in all the unique sporting and adventure activities in the region.

McCulloch feels that the perceived more daring sports like alpine skiing or river paddling tend to challenge people with a disability at various levels. The result is a more confident and independent individual.

‘’Sports with risk can be a put-off for some,’’ he said. ‘’However the things you can do being exposed to risk in a safe environment can set you up for success. By the end of our camp, most of the sit skiers were accessing the lifts and skiing on their own. 

‘’That is amazing on an individual’s psyche and it is empowering.’’

Applications are now open for the 2019-2020 Paralympic Sport Development Fund, which offers funding amounts between $5,000 and $15,000. For more information or to submit an application for your sport organization or club, please visit Games.Paralympic.ca/funding-opportunities. The application deadline is March 3, 2019.