On an early winter’s morning, Blind Foundation clients, staff, volunteers and a team from Canterbury Disabled Snowsports (CDS) set off for the slopes of Mount Hutt, Christchurch. Packed in a minivan, the group left the Blind Foundation office and spent the two-hour journey to the mountain getting to know each other.
The team was given special code names such as Captain Fantastic, Mr X and Catwoman on arrival. Everyone had an orientation of the ski base and learned the basics before heading off on the beginners’ slopes.
It was Blind Foundation client Fiona Kennedy’s first time skiing. She says she enjoyed it so much she can’t wait to be going again next winter.
“It was an amazing day. The staff were fantastic and supportive. We were paired with guides who were attached to our skis with reins so they could take control when needed.
“We all had a few falls, but got the hang of it in the end. I encourage anyone to give it a go; it’s not as scary as you think.”
Being back on skis for the first time since losing his sight was liberating for David Wilson.
“Last time I went skiing I could see. So this time was more challenging. I had a guide with me to keep me in control but I went solo on the last three goes. It sure was a thrill!
“The instructors were fantastic, they had plenty of experience working with people with disabilities, and they were caring, patient and made it easy for us. Erin from the Blind Foundation was also great. She made sure we were all safe and gave us all the information beforehand, so there were no surprises. It built my confidence knowing what was going to happen.”
“The event was an ideal opportunity for clients to have a go at skiing, and experience an alpine ski resort, in a supported team environment. There are a few from the group who have shown interest in joining CDS next season for regular supported skiing lessons,” says Erin.