The Adaptive Sports Foundation began as The Disabled Ski Program in 1984. In its first season, there were 20 volunteer instructors and 30 students. They began before the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1996; however, their mission was similar. They wanted anyone to be able to participate in any recreational activity. Their name has since changed to the Adaptive Sports Foundation, but the call is still the same.
The Foundation initially had a small office in a little building in a parking lot. There was little heat and less equipment so the volunteers and participants alike kept their coats on. A small chalkboard was used for daily assignments, and though the group did not have much; they greeted their students with enthusiasm and a positive attitude. That continues today to encourage the students and instructors alike.
The Adaptive Sports Foundation provides all seasons sport and recreational activities for physically and/or cognitively challenged individuals in a mountain environment designed to increase the participant’s self-esteem, independence, and potential. The results of the program have been the students leading better lives by being healthier and being more productive within their families and their communities.
Their slogan is “if I can do this, I can do anything.” Presently, the Foundation has 125 volunteer instructors who serve 1500 disabled athletes annually. The program continues to serve as the research and development center for adaptive instruction. They also are a model for others interested in establishing adaptive programs.
The volunteer corps is a group comprised of various people of various positions in life around the Windham community. The Foundations encourages and provides education and certification for high school and college students, teachers, physical therapists, retirees, doctors, lawyers, nurses, homemakers and the like. Those who serve with the program donate 16 teaching days in addition to 10 other days of training.
The students are diverse also. Some are developmentally delayed, autistic, retarded, blind, visually impaired, quadriplegic, paraplegic, cancer patients at all levels of treatment, along with those who have multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, blood disorders, and amputees.