Written by Colby, Winter Intern
In the midst of the holiday rush, even three weeks of pre-season training provided little preparation for the unique assistance required by each participant. While a broad range of strategies and procedures were introduced in preparation for what we might encounter, a creative and adaptive mindset is necessary when dealing with the particulars of each individual. From visual impairments, to spinal cord injuries, to autism, the special needs of the students I’ve assisted has always come second to their will and eagerness for a joyful experience. Their enthusiasm and optimism is an inspiration to me, and their triumphs lift my spirits.
Regardless of the challenges and obstacles guaranteed to occur within each lesson, the success of progression provides an unmatched feeling of accomplishment. With patience and flexibility, the difficulties encountered can become opportunities for learning and growth. Whether it be de-escalating, comforting, distracting a student after a fall, or promoting independence through positive reassurances, the balance of assisting and encouraging is in constant teeter.
Coming into my Challenge Aspen experience, I strived to have no expectations or presumptions as to what adaptive assisting would entail. Entering with an open mind and aspirations to provide a service to others, I was unaware the return impact the students would have on me. Their eagerness and enthusiasm in their embrace of the mountain experience has provided me with a unique zest for sharing the sport I love. To have a hand in the amazing possibilities provided and fulfilled through Challenge Aspen’s adaptive program is a truly rewarding experience. I continue to look forward to the challenge and fulfillment each new day provides.