Challenge Aspen is dedicated to impacting lives through year-round adaptive experiences for individuals, including military personnel, faced with cognitive and/or physical disabilities. Challenge Aspen creates life-changing opportunities by encouraging participation in activities designed to redefine limits, recognize abilities, and transfer newfound courage to everyday life. We serve clients with a range of disabilities from Autism Spectrum Disorder and multiple sclerosis to visual impairment, spinal cord injury (SCI), and more. People with SCI are the third highest population served at Challenge Aspen, after cognitive and visual impairment disabilities. During the 2017/2018 season, we served approximately 45 people with SCI, which is more than last season when 38 people were served.
With our latest project titled Fresh Air and Freedom: Offering Winter Sports Opportunities to Participants with SCI, we aim to increase access to our winter programs for participants with SCI through: an SCI-specific retreat, private ski/snowboard lessons for fourteen military veterans with SCI, and a commitment to the local community by providing program scholarships for five residents with SCI.
Challenge Aspen’s winter sports programs offer single day activities and multi-day retreats and include a lift ticket, adaptive ski equipment, and private ski and snowboard lessons led by a certified adaptive instructor. We personalize experiences and want our participants to leave with confidence and a deeper understanding of their own potential. We recognize the expense to participants and strive to decrease financial barriers for our clients so they may continue to learn about themselves and grow beyond their disability. We encourage participants to push boundaries in a safe setting, to trust in their own abilities, and find the courage to carry these lessons forward in pursuit of goals in other areas of their lives.
Our goal is to build relationships with a network of rehabilitation centers to complement their therapeutic and rehabilitation efforts with individuals with SCI across the nation. For the 2018/2019 winter season we plan to host two SCI-specific six day retreats with the Kennedy Krieger Institute and with the Shephard Center. Participants will be able to share experiences with their conditions and rehab.
Eleven of our annual retreats are organized through Challenge Aspen Military Opportunities (CAMO) program and will host fourteen veterans with SCI. Veterans attend for free, but Challenge Aspen looks for partners to cover activity expenses.
Twelve Challenge Aspen participants with SCI live in the Roaring Fork Valley. Additional scholarship funds will help individuals in financial need experience community participation on the slopes.
We advocate that outdoor adaptive sports translate into a better life. Increased participation in adaptive sports positively effects personal perspective, familial relationships, and community engagement. (CHN: COandI chn:wdg)