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Donations help students learn to ski

Jackie Hosey

For most people the challenge of strapping on skis for the first time and trying to maintain control as they make their way down an icy slope is a scary thought. But for students at the Alpine Meadows-based Tahoe Adaptive Ski School it’s not that big of a deal.By the time the students make it to the school, they are accustomed to meeting and overcoming challenges on a daily basis.The school is, as the name implies, adaptive. Staff members work together to meet the special needs of their students, all of whom are handicapped in one way or another. Some have physical problems such as paralysis or blindness, others may have an emotional or mental handicaps. It doesn’t really matter to staff members; their goal is figure out a way to get past it and teach the student to ski.Last week a group of high school students from the Tahoe-Truckee community-based education program visited the school for the fourth time this season. Thanks to a scholarship program at the ski school, students received a fourth one-on-one lesson at no charge to them or the school district. The lessons were paid for by donations from Tahoe-Truckee residents.According to Director Katherine Hayes Rodriguez, the school has received a great deal of help from the community. Civic clubs, local businesses and private donors have all contributed, providing scholarships for about 100 people. About half of those have been middle school or high school students, Rodriguez said.The one-and-a-half hour lessons cost $100 each and include equipment and lift tickets.The major contributors in Truckee have been the noon Rotary Club and the Knights of Columbus. The Tahoe City Rotary and Kiwanis clubs and Porter’s Ski & Sport also provide a number of the scholarships.Norma Bravo of Truckee is thankful for the scholarship she received, and is making the most of the opportunity. As a high school student in the education program, Bravo is working to develop skills which will one day make it possible for her to live independently. Her teacher, Lisa Furr, said setting a goal such as learning to ski is only part of that process. Bravo and her fellow students also have volunteer jobs, either at the Tahoe Forest Hospital or at Incline Village Health Center. Their academic classes are taught by Furr and a second instructor, Karen White, and the students return to their home high schools for elective courses such as art and music.The skiing lessons are considered leisure recreation skills, Furr said. Students not only learn something they can use for the rest of their lives, they also learn social skills and get some exercise in the meantime.Bravo has learned to make her way down the mountain, but the accomplishment she’s most proud of is making it up the mountain.”I like the chairlift,” she said. “I was kind of nervous at first, but now it’s fun.”Bravo’s ski instructor, Terry Williams, said he too is proud of Bravo’s progress.”You see someone like Norma, when she first got here she was so shy, so reticent, that she wouldn’t even get on the ski lift and now she looks forward to it,” he said. “It’s great to see her develop so much self-confidence.”Equipment manager Paul Combs works two days a week at the school, repairing and maintaining the equipment. Combs said he feels a little better about life on those days.”Maybe it changes you when you walk in the door. These are just some of the nicest people I’ve ever met,” he said. “They’re through feeling sorry for themselves when they come in here.”Perhaps the most valuable thing Combs gets from the students, however, is perspective.”You see people who can’t even walk when they come in here and they’re out there skiing. And you realize your biggest problem is that your car wouldn’t start this morning.”Sierra Sun E-mail: sun@tahoe.comVisitors Guide | News | Diversions | Marketplace | Weather | CommunityCopyright, tahoe.com. Materials contained within this site maynot be used without permission.About tahoe.com… 


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