Over 250 students, from around the Island and beyond, participate each winter in the Vancouver Island Society for Adaptive Snowsports’ (VISAS) ski and snowboard program.
As the current season wraps up, the 102 downhill, snowboard and cross-country volunteer instructors continue to celebrate the legacy of Herb Bradley who founded the Disabled Ski Program in the early 1960s on Forbidden Plateau.
In the late ’70s the program moved to Mount Washington Alpine Resort and has evolved to become the Vancouver Island Society for Adaptive Snowsports (VISAS). With strong support from the management at Mount Washington, VISAS has grown over the years and now offers, along with downhill skiing, learn to snowboard lessons, race and skills development, and Nordic skiing, to a wide range of people and ages with diverse abilities.
Each season includes three major events: the Herb Bradley Snowsports Festival in early January – a four-day snow sports experience for new students; the Veterans’ Ski Week, (which brings together injured and wounded veterans from Canada’s military and as far away as Australia); and VISAS Awareness Day, held March 8 at Mount Washington.
VISAS’s program focuses on being inclusive, achievable, affordable, and fun for individuals with a variety of physical and mental challenges. VISAS offers these snowsport activities through its dedicated team of volunteer instructors. If you are over 19 and are an intermediate or above skier or boarder who is interested in working with people with diverse abilities, consider becoming a volunteer instructor. Recruitment for the next season will be advertised this fall.
Over the past 40 years, approximately 1,000 different volunteer ski and boarding instructors have taught in the adaptive program. On Sunday, May 31, a reunion is planned for alumni VISAS instructors. It will be an opportunity for the current generation of instructors to connect with some of the many retired and some of the original instructors. The reunion will be a potluck picnic at Kitty Coleman Beach (time and exact location to be determined). All instructors and families are welcome to join us on May 31, especially if you remember the days when Herb managed the duty desk. For more details or to RSVP for the potluck reunion picnic, contact Debbie at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about VISAS, visit www.visasweb.ca