October 3, 2009

The World of Not For Profits - Part 2

When we moved to this valley, there was one skill we wanted Alex to learn - skiing. We had some experience with Alex on skis previous to our move to ski country, but we had not been too successful. Despite the fun times we had on family ski vacations, all Alex would remember was the time she skied into her father and face planted. This was funny the first five times she told the story, but after that – it got very old.

We moved to this area in August, which gave me time to look for a ski program for Alex. What I discovered exceeded all expectations - Challenge Aspen. This not for profit is a world renowned program serving  people of all disabilities. I go back to my favorite question - coincidence or karma? Karma definitely.

The first winter Alex skied with a CA instructor every Sunday. It really did not take long for her to learn to ski every blue run on the mountain. These instructors not only know how to teach skiing, they know how to work with all sorts of personalities. In Alex’s case this is the key to teaching her anything – the right instructions, the right amount of pressure and tons of patience.

Per Challenge Aspen’s web site:

Challenge Aspen is dedicated to impacting lives by presenting meaningful recreational, cultural and competitive experiences to individuals faced with cognitive or physical challenges.

The aim of Challenge Aspen is to carefully orchestrate life changing adventures, giving participants the courage to learn something new, trust their own abilities and carry that ideal forward, reaching toward goals in other areas of their lives.

We have been involved in many of Challenge Aspen’s activities since this first winter. Alex has participated in the summer camps, which include a week of art, and a week of music and dance. The production this year – which attracts kids from all over the world - was a medley of musicals. Alex was caste in the “Grease” scene and played Sandy. I think this was heaven for her – a stage, an audience, a microphone and a song!

Though her instruction with Challenge Aspen, Alex has been able to be a fairly competitive member of her Special Olympics skiing team.This leads us to the fourth not for profit that has been such a positive influence in Alex’s life.

As already mentioned, and really the reason for this narrative, Alex participates in the Special Olympics Organization. Her local team is the Roaring Fork Mountain Niños. Please see my entry “The Mountain Niños” for more about her team.

Here is recap from the web site:

The Roaring Fork Mountain Niños are committed to creating meaningful recreational, sport training and competitive opportunities for youth with developmental disabilities in the Roaring Fork Valley.

The Roaring Fork Mountain Niño’s are dedicated to fulfilling these aspirations through participation in year round sport training and Special Olympics Colorado. Our focus is to create a team learning environment that instills all our members with confidence and perseverance, reaffirms core ethics and values, develops physical fitness and athletic abilities to help provide opportunities for social interaction among family, friends, peers and the local community. It is our intent to assist in the development of our athlete’s base skills empowering them to live healthy, happy and productive lives in order for them to attain their loftiest dreams.

As I said yesterday - "without argument, not for profits are run by passionate and caring people. These people live to serve the mission of their organizations". NADS, WindWalkers, Challenge Aspen and the Niños are the epitome of this.

I know, as Alex gets older, we will seek the assistance of other not for profits. There are organizations that will help Alex with social activities, assisted living, job coaching and so much more. I would be lost without these organizations. As John likes to say “it takes a village” and in the case of a family with a child with special needs “it takes a world".

We are fortunate that Alex was born in 1993 and not 1963 – or even earlier. The world has become enlightened and supportive of people with disabilities in the last 45 years. This did not happen by itself – it took parents, and siblings and self advocates to pave the way for us.

It it my responsibility and my pleasure to carry on this tradition.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for your note, we love hearing from you!