NEW HARTFORD – Stride Adaptive Sports has opened-up these slopes to skiers of all abilities. “We can get anyone skiing that’s the wonderful thing,” says Karen Cook, Adaptive Program Director at Ski Sundown.

In group lessons, volunteers, who have intense training, provide support. “They help me,” says 15 year old Kyle Skora-Thomas.

Socialization is key.

“Making new friends,” says 16 year old Jessica Burt, who – like Kyle, is on the autism spectrum.

“To watch her amongst the Stride instructors and other Stride athletes, she absolutely blossomed,” says mom Julie. “She’s glowing, smiling, comfortable.”

Jessica struggled with typical lessons. “After she started the adaptive lessons, she grabbed me by the neck, hugged me hard and said, ‘I’m not a failure anymore,'” says Julie.

“The other great thing is that we have a spectrum of ages,” says Cook.

77 year old Joan Sidney has Multiple Sclerosis. So, she uses a sit-ski. Tethered to volunteers, she turns the apparatus for a core and arm workout. “I really have gotten stronger, my upper body and my legs do better,” says Sidney.

Ski Sundown offered this typical skier a chance to experience the sit-ski. “You’re in a bucket, the bucket is like a boot, you’re sitting in it and there are skies underneath it,” explains Cook. The participant is packed-in for control. “The shoulder straps come across your chest,” says Cook.

We set off on a trip down the trail that’s utterly exhilarating – absolutely providing that feeling of freedom that makes skiing so special.

A program that’s all about inclusion, learning and skill. “The adrenaline!” says Sidney. “It just makes me so strong!”

Adaptive lessons take place each week on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Wednesdays. There’s still time this season to take part.

Click here for more information.