Abbie from the Wasatch Adaptive Sports team here, reporting for duty as a guest blogger for our friends at Canyon Services! As a nonprofit organization based at Snowbird and a member of the vibrant and incredibly supportive Little Cottonwood Canyon community, I’m excited to share more about WAS including what we do, who we serve, and how you can get involved.
Founded in 1977 (happy 40th birthday to us!), WAS is guided by our mission to encourage individuals with adaptive needs and their families to realize their potential and engage in active living through recreational, educational, and social programs. We aim to accomplish this by providing lessons to adults, children, and veterans with disabilities in a range of sports, the largest of which are skiing and cycling. You might have seen our athletes shredding Snowbird in the winter or perhaps cruising around Liberty Park on bikes and trikes of all kinds in the summer. Look out for our newly wrapped trailer, you can’t miss it!
WAS is all about having fun, but our programming goes far beyond that. Each of our programs aims to positively impact the physical and mental health of our participants, including improving strength, mobility, confidence, and overall quality of life. Skill building is at the center of all we do so that participants are gaining independence within WAS programming which extends into their daily lives. We may be outside and having a blast in Utah’s great outdoors, but we are also changing lives!
If you haven’t seen WAS out and about yet, you are bound to soon. Our program has been growing by leaps and bounds over the last few years and continues to do so. Participation in WAS lessons has increased by over 90% in the past three years so that now we are serving hundreds of participants through thousands of lessons every year. Much of this growth has been spurred by new relationships with Utah’s premier medical institutions who actively refer their patients to WAS because they understand the incredible health benefits that come with program participation. WAS counts University of Utah Health Care, Intermountain Medical Center, Primary Children’s Medical Center, Shriners Hospital for Children, Utah Neuro Rehabilitation, and Neuroworx as partners. Did I mention that 95% of WAS lessons are on full scholarship? We are all about making adaptive recreation accessible to the masses!
WAS has been expanding our program offerings in order to serve all of the individuals with adaptive needs who wish to recreate with us. You can find us on the slopes of Alta and Sundance and being active throughout Salt Lake and Utah County. Though skiing and cycling are our largest programs, WAS has grown to offer lessons in snowboarding, snowshoeing, paddle boarding, kayaking, hiking, fishing, camping, yoga, and more. In an effort to further extend our reach and deepen our impact, WAS has recently launched a rental program so that our participants can borrow both winter and summer adaptive recreational equipment to use on their own time. Mono-skis, recumbent bikes, and other adaptive recreational equipment come with a hefty price tag, and WAS aims to ease the cost burden so that our participants can keep getting after it even when they aren’t recreating within our programming. The rental program also helps our participants stay active and achieve even further degrees of independence. Win-win-win!
WAS’s growth also means that we need all hands on deck, and volunteers of the LCC and greater Salt Lake community have answered that call. Our volunteer program has grown from a few souls to a corps of 50+ individuals who selflessly give their time to make our programming possible. Because WAS programs are personalized to each participant, our lessons require A LOT of manpower (one-to-one instruction, five-to-one instruction, whatever it takes!). Volunteers provide meaningful support to head instructors during lessons and love to play alongside and socialize with our participants. WAS’s expanded volunteer program has been vital to our success and has allowed us to keep our costs down so that we can continue providing scholarships at such a high rate.
If you can’t tell quite yet, I’m pretty enthusiastic about working for such an incredible organization, and I love spreading the word about all the great things WAS does in the community. Even more, I relish getting new people involved with WAS. So how can you help? There are so many options!
- If you know someone who could benefit from our programming, put them in touch with Marina through email at [email protected] or by phone at 801.933.2188.
- We would love to have you volunteer! We are looking for people who can commit at least 10 hours per month to WAS. Marina can tell you more about our volunteer program, too.
- In order to provide such a high rate of scholarships as we continue to serve more and more people with adaptive needs, donations are vital to our continued success. WAS would be lost without the generosity of our incredible supporters. To donate to WAS, visit our website at www.wasatchadaptivesports.org or contact me at [email protected] or by phone at 801.933.2188.
Thanks for taking the time to learn about WAS. If you have any questions I didn’t answer for you within this blog, feel free to reach out to us as we are always happy to help!