As skiers, snowboarders and all-round snow-lovers, we spend a great deal of time planning and enjoying trips to the Alps, and watching videos of everyone from top Olympic medallists to our favourite back-country heroes hitting the snow. It’s easy to forget, however, that not everyone has such easy access to the soaring peaks and valleys of the Alps.
Less able-bodied people often struggle to meet the physical challenges that skiing and snowboarding pose, and the annual getaways that able-bodied skiers and boarders may take for granted are out of reach for many. Across the UK there are many charities working to redress that balance — delivering outdoor adventure to those who may otherwise struggle. In the world of ski and snowboard, two stand out from the rest; Ski4AllWales and Disability Snow Sport UK.
From their base in Pembrey, West Wales, Ski4AllWales help people with physical, neurological or visual deficits find ways of experiencing the thrill of the slopes. Using a selection of carefully adapted ski equipment, the specialist team of physiotherapists, instructors and volunteers deliver ski sessions in the local area and across the Alps.
Aside from helping others enjoy the mountains, the charity’s aim is to boost less able-bodied people’s confidence and sense of achievement. This was demonstrated beautifully on the charity’s recent trip to Verbier, which saw a large group taking to the snow — some for the first time ever.
Over the last 30+ years, a number of charities working toward the same goal have joined forces under the Disability Snowsports UK name, and they’ve been working hard to raise money, awareness and spirits among keen snow-lovers the length and breadth of the UK.
If you’re new to DSUK, their mission statement encapsulates their work wonderfully:
To promote equality and opportunity for people with disabilities to take part in snow sports, and to help improve their enjoyment and standard of performance at the level of their choice.
Disability Snowsports UK aims to help anyone and everyone — regardless of their physical capabilities or limitations — enjoy snow sports. From local clubs at the grassroots level and residential activity weeks in the mountains, all the way to the top of the sport at Paralympic athlete-level, Disability Snowsports UK is on hand with the support and encouragement people need.
Planning and delivering these courses and adventures takes a great deal of time, care and effort, but it also costs money. If you’d like to make a financial contribution, you can donate to the Ski4AllWales or the Disability Snowsports UK fundraiser pages online.