A group of young patients with cerebral palsy (CP) or another condition affecting body movement, muscle control, posture or balance, learned valuable lessons about self-confidence, independence, and mobility on a recent ski trip to Windham Mountain, sponsored by the Adaptive Sports Academy at New York City’s Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS).
The Adaptive Sports Academy enables children with physical disabilities to participate in athletic activities they might never have otherwise considered. Some of the youths have been patients at HSS for years.
This year, eight youths ranging in age from 8 to 16 years old were able to join the Academy’s third trip to Windham Mountain. For many, this was their first time skiing.
“The Adaptive Sports Academy gives our patients a chance to develop new skills and interests, and it promotes mobility and activity. It also reinforces therapy goals by engaging participants in a new activity and requiring them to use their bodies in a new way,” Lisa Ipp, chief of pediatrics medicine at HSS, said in a press release. “They always feel empowered after trying a new activity and succeeding.”
The trips are fully covered by HSS, and are funded through generous donors who support the Academy’s work. This year’s ski trip was made possible with the help of trained volunteers from the Adaptive Sports Foundation at Windham, who provided instruction and adapted equipment for the participants.
“Most people take for granted our automatic movement patterns,” said Lorene Janowski, an occupational therapist at HSS who went on the trip. “Children with physical disabilities put a lot of effort and planning into moving their bodies; therefore adaptive activities such as skiing, are a way for them to challenge themselves, even if it means making modifications and adaptations to meet their goals.”
Last year, HSS sponsored two similar trips — one to Long Island in August, for young patients with disabilities including cerebral palsy to try adaptive surfing, a practice gaining attention for its therapeutic benefits; and a trip to go horseback riding at the Endeavor Therapeutic Horsemanship in Mount Kisco, N.Y. in September.
The Adaptive Sports Academy also takes children and teens on rock climbing trips, from time to time, in partnership with Brooklyn Boulders and the Adaptive Climbing Group, a program of the Brooklyn Boulders Foundation.