Volunteers Teach Children With Disabilities How To Ski

When you see Gavin Haines skiing down the slopes with a smile ear to ear, you would never guess that at just six months old he was diagnosed with Dravet syndrome, the most catastrophic form of epilepsy.

"I really like how kids who really wouldn't be able to do it before would not be able to do it because of all the because of Connecticut a Children's and all the volunteers" said Gavin.

For the past 35 years, volunteers spend every Friday afternoon using snow sliders, outriggers, and tethers to help disabled children with their balance and control while learning how to ski.

"He went from having a lot of difficulties even walking appropriately with his gate and now he's doing so much better," explains Gavin's mother, Stacy Haines. "It brings more confidence and does more for him physically than you know 6 months of therapy does."

The Skiers Unlimited encourages people helping people of all abilities.

Michaela Narus, a disabled skier herself, said,"I get to help all kinds of people with Down syndrome, autism, handicapped, walkers, you name it, we got it."

Steve Balcanoff, the program manager, told me the strength of the program is truly based on the volunteers.

That's the case for Quinnipiac senior Nicole Napolitano who took her passion for health care and skiing to help the disabled children.

"It introduces you to stuff you know we're reading in text books but we're never actually seeing in person sometimes so you get to connect what you're learning to the real world" said Napolitano.

With the reputation of "best dressed on the mountain", Ian Coyne couldn't be more thankful for the skills and friendships he's developed over the past 6 years at Mt. Southington.

"This program is basically my favorite thing to do in the winter. It's not only a great exercise like me but it's a great way to have fun," said Coyne.

"I just encourage all kids with a disability who want to learn how to ski to come over and find out about skiers unlimited."

 

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