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The Freedom to Fly through Snow Sports (Posted On: Thursday, September 07, 2006)

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It was 18 years ago that I started down a path to one of the most rewarding parts of my life. I became a volunteer with Ontario Track 3 Ski Association for the disabled. Little did I know how it would affect my life and make me come to love the winter.

At that time I had been skiing for only one year (I did it to impress a girl, she’s gone but the skiing is not). I was working as a gym teacher and was asked by a colleague at work if I would run an indoor session for a group of skiers with disabilities, I said yes. At the end of the indoor session he asked if I would like to help out on the hill, I said yes. Eighteen years later I now work full time for the program. On my way to working here I have volunteered as an Instructor, Program Director, Course Conductor and Board Member. This is the kind of program that makes you want to make that commitment.

Let me tell you a little bit about the program. Track 3 has been teaching children and youth with physical and mental disabilities to ski for 34 years. It all started in Collingwood where a group of dedicated volunteers began skiing with single leg amputees. This is where the Track 3 name came from, the tracks left by a skier in the snow, one for the ski and two for the outriggers. Outriggers are a specially made adaptive device that look like crutches with small skies attached. The early days had programs at Craigleith and the Peaks. The generosity and positive support of these clubs has helped Track 3 grow. We have added snowboarding and run 16 programs in 16 locations, from Toronto to Collingwood and Milton to Uxbridge. We provided over 5000 hours of instruction to 220 students in the 2006 ski season. Track 3’s programs provide more than healthy outdoor activities for these kids; it enhances their self esteem and wellbeing, through their on hill accomplishments. They can talk to their able bodied classmates about what THEY did on a ski hill, not just listen about others.

The heart of Track 3 continues to be the 450 volunteer Support Staff, Assistants, Instructor, Program Director, Course Conductors and Board Members who give selflessly of their time to keep the program going.

Track 3 is always on the lookout for people looking to get more out of the ski and snowboarding season than their own next run. There is no feeling like helping that child on the chair for the first time, or linking a couple of turns together! Track 3 provides all the training and support you need to be an instructor, or an assistant in our program. If you want to get more out of your winter and support this wonderful program contact Track 3 at 416 233-3872, toll free at 1 877 308-7225 or email us at track3@track3.org and visit our website www.track3.org.

If your time does not allow you to join us on the hill we run a number of fund raising events and are always looking for donations of money or product large and small.

Submitted by: Jack Sim
Special Projects Coordinator
Ontario Track3 Ski Association
tel:416 233-3872
Toll Free: 1 877 308-7225
Fax: 416 233-7862
Cell: 416 524-5635
E-mail jack.track3@bellnet.ca
www.track3.org

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