Spirit in Motion
Anything is achievable if you put the effort in
Spirit in Motion
You are a bird. You live atop a towering cliff, hundreds of metres off the ground. This cliff has been your home since the day you hatched. You know every nook, every cranny, every dip and crack. It is the one place that makes you feel calm in a world of chaos. But, things are changing. You are beginning to branch out, slowly pushing the borders of your own little world. You are beginning to see the exciting possibilities in the world outside the cliff. All you need is a little push. And then, you can spread your wings and soar. I used to feel like this bird, hesitant to leave my own little world of familiarities. But then, I got my push. The one thing that sent me tumbling out of my comfort zone and off the edge of my little cliff – and quite literally, too. What was this push, you ask, what was this thing that resonated with me so deeply? It was as simple as a pair of skis.
Good evening ladies and gentlemen. My name is Anya Morgan, and today I will be speaking to you about a passion of mine that is very close to my heart: adaptive sports.
What are adaptive sports? Adaptive sports are modified versions of sports that cater to the needs of people with cognitive, behavioural, or physical disabilities. The main goal of adaptive sports is to give people of all abilities access to activities that they are unable to take part in without adaptation. There are varying levels of adaptation in adaptive sports, ranging from prosthetic legs and arms to sports wheelchairs, sit skis, and hand cycles.
All participants in adaptive sports are different, like all able bodied sports people. They all have their own strengths and weaknesses. Adaptive sport provides an opportunity for everyone to participate in sporting activities that people are not of the belief that they are capable of and to nurture their strengths in a non-judgemental environment. The atmosphere of recreational adaptive sports is focused on improving a participant’s abilities at their own pace, without comparison or judgement. That’s the most important thing. A non-judgemental environment based upon the person’s own athletic development, not on trying to live up to comparisons.
In a world based on ideals and fuelled on judgement, it is crucial for people participating in adaptive sports to be able to learn in a safe and caring environment. This environment is expressed in two main ways; how the mentors interact with the participants and how the participants interact with each other. Ladies and gentlemen, a key part of any sportsperson’s journey is the coach, and it is critical that you hire a coach that is going to respect the diversity of the participants. Coaches need to be able to disregard society’s rules and regulations, and interact with their students in a respectful manner. My ski coach has been working with disabled people for a long while, and displays all of the essential qualities of an adaptive ski coach. Patience. Enthusiasm. Acceptance.
The adaptive sport that has left the greatest impression on me is para alpine skiing. I started para alpine about eight years ago. Every Christmas, my family would make the trip across the Atlantic from our home in Hampshire, England, and come out to Canmore and Banff. I had basic ski lessons from my dad, but after a few years we found Rocky Mountain Adaptive (RMA), an organisation dedicated to giving people with disabilities the opportunity to experience the outdoors. I took up ski lessons with one of their instructors, and I have skied with RMA ever since.
Eight years ago, I never would have imagined that someday, I would be doing this. Being a skier has showed me that I can do things that I never imagined I could do. It has taught me that anything is achievable if you put the effort in. It has helped me escape stereotypes and think of my disability not as a disadvantage, but as just another part of me.