Including everyone is snowy adventures
Top tips from our volunteer snowsports specialist adviser, Lauren Henderson
We’ve loved watching the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Beijing.
There’s lots of different ways to have a go at snowsports, like going to a local ski centre or going sledging if it snows. 22.5% of our volunteers and 10.3% of our young members have a disability or long term condition and all members should feel be empowered to take part in activities.
Lauren Henderson, Guide leader and our volunteer snowsports specialist adviser who’s qualified in disabled ski support, shares her advice for making sure all girls in your unit can get snowy adventures:
How to involve disabled members
‘Having a girl or leader in your unit with a disability or additional need shouldn’t be a barrier to participating in snowsports. If you’re going skiing or snowboarding, it’s useful to speak to the instructor or centre beforehand to make sure they can adapt lessons as needed.’
What should I do if the member needs more support?
‘Adaptive ski or snowboarded lessons are the names given to lessons for those who need additional support. There are lots of different pieces of equipment which can be used to support a range of disabilities. For members with more complex needs or who need extra support at unit meetings orat school, then they may need a specialist instructor. People can ski sitting down, with one leg or with a visual impairment. Disability doesn’t need to be a barrier. Menna Fitspatrick, skied at the Winter Paralympics with her visual guide Katie Guest, and Shona Brownlee skis sitting. Learn more about the women of the Beijing Winter Paralympics.’
How can my unit afford it?
‘Adaptive lessons can cost more than standard group lessons so it’s worth thinking about whether you can organise one group lesson with an adaptive instructor instead of having a separate lesson. As well as keeping the cost down, disabled members can stay involved with the rest of the unit too. You can also apply for the accessible guiding grant, which helps cover any costs that come from extra access needs.
‘Hiring kit is always the best (and the cheapest) option for beginners and children. Ski socks, goggles and ski gloves can be bought fairly cheaply at the end of the winter season or from popular bargain retailers. You shouldn't need to spend more than £15 on each of these items. Members can also get an exclusive discount at GO Outdoors, Blacks and Millets, making equipment even more affordable.
‘If you're worried about the cost of snow sports, you could try fundraising. Take a look at our fundraising toolkit for ideas.’
What if I need extra support?
‘Disability Snowsport UK (DSUK) is one of the leading charities providing adaptive snowsports lessons in the UK and can offer extra advice. DSUK welcomes all learners, from neurodiverse people to those with lifelong conditions, or who have had a life-changing injury or diagnosis.
‘Your local centre might have their own equipment and specially qualified instructors too, so ask them for advice too. Make sure to check the instructor has an adaptive qualification.