The High Desert Educational Service District partnered with Oregon Adaptive Sports and Mt. Bachelor to make skiing possible for students with visual impairment. The special VI student ski day, part of a long-standing tradition designed to create equitable outdoor experiences for students with disabilities, took place on Friday, March 15.

“This incredible partnership with OAS and Mt. Bachelor allows us to create richer learning experiences for our students with visual impairment,” said Nancy Abbott, teacher of the visually impaired at HDESD. “We know that students learn best through real-world experiences in which they can have a direct, first-hand understanding of something and not just a verbal explanation. Fun and playful movement activities like skiing help build gross motor and fine motor abilities, and exposure to other kids also helps build the foundation for communication and social development.”

According to Abbott, HDESD offers a number of services for children ages birth to 21 years who experience visual impairment. These services — provided by professional educators who have postgraduate training in education for the visually impaired — include evaluation, assessment, and specialized instruction. She also added that HDESD is recruiting for another teacher of the visually impaired.

“Participating in outdoor recreation delivers an abundance of mental and physical health benefits,” said Pat Addabbo, executive director for Oregon Adaptive Sports. “It provides experiences of joy, satisfaction and meaning, opportunities for fitness, and connects individuals to each other, to their families and their communities. Outdoor recreation is flush with transformative powers and it is critical for all individuals to participate in such healthy activities.”

Addabbo added that experiences like skiing can be difficult to access without the added resources needed to ensure a safe and successful program.

“Mt. Bachelor has partnered with OAS for over two decades to provide adaptive skiing and riding opportunities for guests with disabilities, both locals and visitors alike,” said Lauren Burke, director of marketing and communications for Mt. Bachelor. “OAS provides the expertise, training, volunteer, and other resources to fully accommodate the needs and goals of these athletes and Mt. Bachelor provides operational, in-kind, and financial support to OAS. This partnership allows us to provide increased access to the outdoors for hundreds of adaptive skiers and snowboarders each season.”