Inclusive Winter Vacation? Does This Really Exist?

Posted by Barb on December 22, 2010

On my recent visit to Park City for the Snowmamas Summit, I had the chance to tour a lesser known gem of Park City, the National Ability Center.

Snowmama Jen drove me out to this amazing complex a few miles from Park City Mountain Resort on a quiet Sunday morning and we had the absolute fortune of being able to steal away some of staffer Jan Drake’s time with an impromptu tour.

There are many resorts across the country that do adaptive ski and do it well. And while most adaptive ski programs do offer other summer and winter activities, the National Ability Center, working in tandem with Park City Mountain Resort has the ability to offer these activities in one place, bringing a valuable convenience to families looking to take advantage of a ‘destination vacation’. Part of the NAC’s mission is to encourage inclusivity: The National Ability Center seeks to assimilate individuals of all abilities in order to promote family bonds, friendships and community relationships, by providing an opportunity and environment for unrestricted and equal association amongst people with different abilities, and through the removal of the bias that has developed around certain disabilities.

Last year we went to a popular ski resort in the Rockies, known for their adaptive ski program with high hopes. But by the third day, the kids were “over” skiing. Sadly, besides the skiing, not much else was accessible to a person in a wheelchair, leaving Carter, 12, little to do but watch movies in the condo or eat out at local overpriced restaurants. None of us were happy.

This week we are headed to Park City Mountain Resort and are really looking forward to experiencing as many of the winter family activities as possible. Unfortunately this last weekend, my oldest, Connor, 14, rolled his ankle in a basketball game leaving us with two kids that now have mobility issues, even if Connor will be off the slopes for just a short time. Some people may have cancelled their trip but I am not concerned; PCMR has so many other things to do as a family.

Carter, 12, and Connor, 14, have been busy looking up both official and non-official videos on the different activities. With hints from the National Ability Center I am hoping that as a family we will be able to tube at Gorgoza Park and ride the Alpine Coaster at Park City Mountain Resort. We may even look into snowmobiling. All three look like they will be accessible to someone with mobility limitations with some minor adjustments.

Adaptive Ski (adaptive-ski)

Carter is looking forward to trying out the new sit ski at the National Ability Center. I hope the boys also spend some time at the Equine Center there. If Carter is not yet ready to ride, we can at least take advantage of the opportunity to interact with the horses in a calm setting. I felt so at peace in their barn last week and I am hoping to pass some of that on to my boys.

national ability equine center (horse)

I hope you will follow along on our trip diaries this week. I am so excited to take our family, wheelchair, sprained ankle, in-need-of-relaxation husband, to experience a week of activities that are accessible, inclusive and, hopefully, as stress free as possible!

As any traveler with special needs knows being accessible and being truly inclusive are two vastly different things. Park City Mountain Resort strives to be both with the help of the National Ability Center and I look forward to putting that to the test!


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