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Disabled kids get a taste of the skiing life

Granite State Adaptive and Adaptive Adventures team up for outing at King Pine

by Joshua Spaulding
Sports Editor - Granite State News, Carroll County Independent, Meredith News, Gilford Steamer, Winnisquam Echo, Plymouth Record-Enterprise and Baysider

GRANITE STATE ADAPTIVE and Adaptive Adventures teamed up for two days of skiing at King Pine in mid-March. Whit Haynes - Courtesy Photo. (click for larger version)
March 26, 2012
MADISON — Walking near the fence at King Pine on March 12 or 13 would've provided anyone with a unique look.

Leaning up against the fence were various prosthetic legs, in varying colors and shapes. The legs belonged to a number of students from the Greater Boston area who were enjoying a day of skiing with Granite State Adaptive and Adaptive Adventures.

Jen Fraser, who runs Granite State Adaptive, partnered with Joel Berman, the executive director of Adaptive Adventures to bring students out to the slopes for the exercise they all need.

"It gets them into sports," Fraser said. "It's one move toward a healthy lifestyle."

The kids in attendance ranged from age to six to 15 and had numerous disabilities. Some skied on a monoski, others used sit-down equipment. For some, it was the first time in their lives ever being on snow or even doing athletic activities.

"One girl on the monoski, she had never done anything athletic in her life," Fraser said. "They were kids who had never skied before."

While the program Fraser and Berman were running was open to anyone, they were specifically targeting kids from New England and they were joined by many volunteers from around the area who agreed to chip in and help out.

"It's such a pleasure to volunteer with these guys," said Ray Berg, a volunteer from Maine.

"These kids learned more in two days about who they are as people and what they can achieve than they did in school," Fraser said.

Bob Emerson, who works for A Step Ahead in Hicksville, N.Y., was a member of the US Paralympic team and he also was on hand to help the kids learn to use the various pieces of equipment. He has been an amputee for 36 years and skiing for 20 years.

"Bob sees kids all the time getting the legs but not getting out and doing activities," Berman said. "It's amazing how many people don't consider skiing."

Berman noted that skiing is a great sport for disabled people, as it has less of an impact than running. However, it does take a lot of muscle work and is often unfamiliar to urban areas.

"The difficulty really is fatigue," Berman said. "It's surprisingly similar to two-track skiing."

He noted that it really just takes more strength.

One thing that made King Pine the perfect place to host the event was the community support that Fraser and her group get throughout the area, as well as at King Pine, where owner Bob Hoyt welcomed the group with open arms.

The kids and their helpers were on the slopes all day Monday and they got most of the day on Tuesday on the snow as well. The group arrived in Madison on Sunday afternoon and they got the chance to go swimming in the Purity Spring Resort pool and also went tubing in the ski area's tubing park, which Berman said was great to get the kids out and experiencing even more than they would normally see.

"You just want them to try the stuff," Berman said.

"It's great here, the community support is amazing," Emerson said.

"They were supportive and ready to make it happen," Berman said of the community and the King Pine facility.

Fraser was quick to praise everyone who offered up their help, including many of the amputees who came out to offer their assistance.

"We had an awesome group of volunteers," Fraser said.

Granite State Adaptive, based in the Lakes Region, offers snow sports throughout the winter at King Pine, then runs equine-assisted therapy from May through November and also offers numerous other activities. Granite State's sports include alpine and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, equine assisted therapy, rock climbing, aquatics, cycling, golf, snowshoeing, radio controlled sailboat racing, tennis, waterskiing and youth mentoring.

Granite State Adaptive has been in existence for more than 25 years in Carroll County and works with individuals from ages two to 80 with physical, cognitive or emotional disabilities. The Granite State Adaptive mission is to provide individuals who have a disability the opportunity to develop independence, confidence, life skills and fitness through participation in sports, therapy, training and recreation programs.

Joshua Spaulding can be reached at sportsgsn@salmonpress.com or 569-3126

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