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O.R.C.A. Pioneers Adaptive Ski Equipment
Published: 02/28/2013 13:00:00
It's often difficult for people with disabilities to get out into the world and enjoy a lot of the activities that we seem to take for granted, fortunately there's a group called ORCA that specializes in doing just that, and they're developing new and innovative ways to help overcome some of the obstacles that stand in the way. We spoke with Megan Ahleman, the Ski Program Manager for ORCA, to learn more about the group.

"ORCA is a division under SAIL, and SAIL is Southeast Alaska Independent Living and ORCA stands for Outdoor Recreation Community Access. So we get folks with disabilities out in the community and outside doing active things and participating in community events."

One of the ways they've developed to get people participating is a fairly simple contrivance, it's merely a walker mounted on skis; it may not seem like much to those who don't know what it can do, but true to SAIL's motto, it gives disability a possibility; Megan went on to explain where the idea came from.

"Well I think actually it came from the ice rink, at the ice rink they have walkers that beginner skaters can use and so why not try it on snow, if it works on ice, why not try it on snow."

And one of the participants who'd never skied before had a pretty positive attitude about trying it out.

"I think it's very quite interesting, I'm not much of a skier but I think it should be quite interesting."

Cheryl Adelmayer, an ORCA Volunteer, explained the significance of what they were trying to accomplish.

"As far as I know, I don't think there's anything in the lower 48 that actually teaches people with disabilities how to ski downhill or cross country, so to me it's a brand new program and I think they're doing a fantastic job. We're teaching much more than a skill, we're teaching lifelong abilities, we're teaching them positive aspects of themselves, we're teaching them confidence, and we're teaching them to go beyond what they think they can do."

By: Rik Pruett -