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Whistler Adaptive Sports Program is once again offering a wide range of winter sports, including skiing. Photo by Photo submitted
The organization offers accessible recreation opportunities for participants of all ages.
While many Whistler residents are tuning up their gear and counting down the days until their first run of the season, the Whistler Adaptive Sports Program (WASP) is gearing up for another season of providing recreation opportunities to those who may be facing barriers.
The local non-profit is currently seeking volunteers to help coach the wide variety of accessible winter sports and recreational programming that they facilitate for individuals with disabilities.
This year’s roster of programming, available for everyone aged three years or older, is set to include alpine skiing and snowboarding, nordic skiing and alpine ski racing, as well as indoor sports such as swimming lessons, strength and conditioning sessions and yoga.
And, according to WASP executive director Chelsey Walker, they’re all in high demand. “We’re very, very busy,” she said. “Most of our weekends are already waitlisted for ski and snowboard lessons.”
To that end, WASP is seeking 40 volunteers to coach ski and snowboard lessons alone. “We’re in a capacity building stage where we’ve grown significantly across a few different sports, and now we’re facing needing to increase our staffing… to deliver the demand for the programs,” Walker explained. “We’re looking for help with our nordic program and racing program, and if anyone has a swim background we’re always looking for an extra set of hands in the pool. Anyone who has an interest, really, can get in touch with us and we’ll find a good spot for them.”
While experience with one of the above-listed sports is considered an asset for volunteer applicants, WASP does provide training when it comes to working with the various populations they serve. “We also look for people who are flexible, who can work through plans A through Z and who can also think outside the box,” said Walker. “Our volunteer pool is actually quite diverse, which matches the diversity of the populations that we work with.”
Volunteer coach positions for WASP’s winter programs range in time commitment, from one hour per week for their nordic ski program to a minimum commitment of 23 full, seven-hour days over the course of the winter for weekend ski and snowboard lessons, though that minimum includes five training days.
In addition to helping people who might not otherwise have the chance gain access to recreation, volunteering for WASP as a ski and/or snowboard coach will also earn you the perk of a free season’s pass to Whistler Blackcomb.
But before the season begins, WASP, which accommodates approximately 600 participants on a year-round basis, is raising funds to ensure they can continue to offer the best possible experiences for their athletes. They’ve partnered with Cornucopia for the second year in a row, where they’re set to hold their second silent auction of the week during the Poured Grand Tasting event on Saturday (Nov. 19).
Last year’s fundraiser resulted in $30,000 for the organization. This year, Walker said the organization is hoping to break the $35,000 mark.
“By working all the different populations all ages it really sets us apart from other organizations working in a similar field,” she said. “I think that people really feel their dollar goes a long way when they’re contributing to Whistler Adaptive.”
Question, Whistler’s Award-Winning Newspaper (Megan Lalonde, November 14, 2016)