15 seconds was all it took to change Jamie McCulloch’s life. While teaching his sister how to ski, he witnessed a transformation in her that he will never forget. As he recalls, for the first five seconds she had a look of fear in her eyes because she realized he had let go. Then, during the next five seconds of the run, her fear turned to reassurance as she realized she was in control.
The final five seconds were the most rewarding for Jamie as he witnessed his sister’s self-confidence and euphoria after having completed a run top-to-bottom on her own. Immediately, Jamie knew that he wanted to help individuals with any ability to participate in mountain sports.
Jamie came to Canada to work as a ski instructor at Sunshine Village. There, he formed friendships with families and other individuals who were using his services as an adaptive ski instructor. Through those relationships, and a desire to fill the void that existed in adaptive mountain sports, the Rocky Mountain Adaptive Sports Centre (RMASC) was born in 2009.
Over the years, RMASC’s events programme has expanded to offer 20 different recreational events and opportunities all-year-round. Their aim is to allow people of all abilities to enjoy sport and recreation in the mountains, so programmes are open to individuals worldwide.
“Anything can be achieved and any obstacle can be overcome when people come together and work together by sharing their skills, passions and determinations”, says Jamie.
At RMASC, participants transfer their personal growth from success in sport and recreation to the challenges they face in their daily lives. For example, a collaborative effort between RMASC and the school of a boy with autism encouraged him to speak in front of his class weekly to share his skiing experiences.
After a physical injury picked up from competitive skiing, a young girl regained her confidence to chase her dream. She learned to sit-ski with RMASC and is now a member of the Canadian Development Paralympic sit-ski team. Another young girl developed self-confidence through her experiences at RMASC and now she mentors other participants as well as training to be an instructor.
RMASC believes people shouldn’t pay a premium because they require special attention or support. For this reason, they aim to keep program costs low. As they continue to grow, obtaining additional support through fundraising and corporate sponsorship will support their need for more staff. RMASC wants every Canadian with a challenge to know that they can take advantage of any sport and recreational opportunity the Rockies have to offer.
After all, “There isn’t impossible; there is no such thing as can’t, just cans that we haven’t done yet. That’s what we take from this: anything can be done,” says Jamie in an RMASC promotional video.
Check out “Shredability”, an upcoming fundraiser at Sunshine Village on March 15, which is a giant scavenger hunt with adaptive challenges spread over the mountain in places accessible for all. To get involved, check out the RMASC website.