COVID resulted in Rocky Mountain Adaptive cutting its 2019/20 winter program short by two months thereby reducing program fees, the cancellation of its major winter fundraiser and postponement of the annual golf tournament. Several grants and third party fundraisers successfully relied upon in the past were suspended or not renewed. To maintain key staff whose specific skills and experience would be difficult to replace and run modified programming, a new virtual fundraising initiative was developed and held, a smaller golf tournament held in September. Rocky Mountain Adaptive has relied upon federal and provincial emergency financial support, and its net unrestricted assets or reserve, which without additional funding will be depleted by the end of the ski season in May 2021 barring Rocky Mountain Adaptive being able to hold the major winter fundraiser in April again.
Imagine skiing down your favourite mountain… kayaking on one of the many lakes in the Bow Valley… hiking to the top of a mountain.
In these moments how do you feel???
Now imagine doing this living as an individual with a disability. Maybe being born with a developmental or cognitive challenge like Autism or Down Syndrome, or living with balance, strength and coordinations challenges like Cerebral Palsy, or maybe due to an accident, having your world changed and having to learn to live with a spinal cord injury and having to use a wheel chair as a result of para or quadriplegia.
20 years ago, an 11 year old girl, got to experience the thrill of learning to ski from her brother, sliding down a mountain feeling the wind in her hair, and the feeling of accomplishment and independence of doing this all on her own…
This girl’s name is Clare, she lives with Autism…
…and she is my sister
This opportunity to succeed in the mountains not only had a profound effect on Clare’s and my life, but shaped the philosophy of Rocky Mountain Adaptive.
It planted the seed that grew to lead me to create many more of these moments for individuals living with disabilities.
Jamie McCulloch, Executive Director and Co-Founder
Celebrating our 10th anniversary this year serving predominantly Calgary and surrounding area, we have gone from providing 40 adaptive experiences to a handful of participants to providing over 2,000 adaptive experiences to over 250 participants last year.
Government data, captured for the introduction of Bill C-81: An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada, identified that 1 in 7 (14%) Canadians live with a disability. Within the Bow Valley, Calgary and area, that equates to over 200,000 people living with some type of disability (including the elderly).
What makes us unique is that we are a year-round multi-sport, all abilities organization, anyone, no matter their age or if they have a physical, developmental or cognitive impairment can participate in our programs.
We are known as a disability sport organization, we are not, we are an abilities sport organization.
By working with individuals unique abilities and strengths, and providing specialized adaptive equipment, certified instructors, and trained volunteer support, we remove the barriers to participation in mountain sports and recreation activities.
We have all heard about the benefits of being active and engaging in the natural environment for physical and mental health, but why else should we do what we do.
The intangible output from our programs and arguably the real benefits are to promote self-esteem, confidence, independence and a sense of belonging to one’s community. The feedback from our participants and research from agencies such as the Canadian Disability Participation Project, all demonstrate we achieve success in this area.
It is not easy to quantify results such as self-esteem, confidence, independence and belonging – but what we can say, is the smiles, attitude and determination we see from our participants, confirm the feedback we get from them, their parents, caregivers and supporters – they all agree they see a positive change as a result of participation with Rocky Mountain Adaptive and our many program options.
While offering programs in Cross-Country skiing, snowshoeing, skating and dog sledding, our headline winter program is Alpine skiing and snowboarding.
By offering opportunity for lessons, specialized activity days including try it days, and multi-week programs, individuals have the opportunity to participate in an environment that sets them up for success.
Our ski buddy program is a free program provided by trained volunteers, where individuals are given the support they need to be able to participate on their terms, as independently as possible. Whether that be helping carry equipment, giving assistance to a sit skier with chair lift loading, being a ski companion for an individual with vision impairment, this is provided at no cost. A similar program exists in the summer for hiking.
The Grassroots to Podium Para Alpine Ski program fills a void that has existed in Canada to provide the environment necessary to develop young Para Alpine athletes and coaches with aspirations of achieving Paralympic success.
Using the success of our ski program as a base of development, we are aspiring to do the same in the summer and make paddling sports (kayak, canoe and standup paddleboard) our headline program, along with hiking, biking, horse riding to name a few activities.
A massive enabler to our program users and their families, is our adaptive equipment rental program,. As you can imagine, specialized adaptive sports equipment, like sit skiis, kayaks, paddle boards and hand cycles do not come cheap, and are often a major barrier to individuals being able to try a sport. By offering a wide range of adaptive equipment rentals, we do not just remove this barrier, but can enable access to equipment that is suitable for the individual’s uniqueness in their mobility and skill levels.
Over the past years we have focused our funding on capital investment in specialized adaptive equipment to support all our programs. We have acquired a wide and diverse range of equipment that supports our summer and winter programming. Whilst there is always a need for expanding our available equipment, we are currently seeking funding to assist with programming expenses and removing the barrier of getting to the mountains.$50,00
To be able to provide opportunities to enjoy sport and recreation, and help make dreams possible, Rocky Mountain Adaptive requires fantastic individuals to volunteer. Volunteers with Rocky Mountain Adaptive assist inspirational individuals around the slopes of Sunshine Village, across Canmore Nordic Centre trails, on hiking trips, on paddling outings, and many other adventures. We also require volunteers to help raise awareness and assist with special fundraising events.
Rocky Mountain Adaptive would like to expand and diversify its board and committees (Governance & Finance and Health & Safety), and is especially looking for individuals with marketing and fund development experience.