National Ability Center Tour

Posted by Karin on February 7, 2012

sledhockey001 (sledhockey001)

My youngest daughter Veronica has special needs; she's blind, in a wheelchair and non-verbal, but what she appears to lack in ability she more than makes up for in personality and sparkle.  One of my challenges as a mom is to find activities that my family can enjoy together.  Last month I toured the 26-acre Bronfman Family Recreational Center & Ranch of the National Ability Center (NAC), located just a few miles from Main Street in Park City.  Here everyone from kids with special needs to competitive para-athletes can participate in a wide range of athletic classes, programs and camps designed to meet the requirements of the individual participant.  The NAC's goal is to provide opportunities that enhance self-esteem, confidence and physical development, inspiring more activity and participation in all aspects of life.

The NAC contains a 20,000 square foot lodge with private rooms, a common area and a cafeteria.  Don't let the word cafeteria fool you - I met the chef and sampled some cookies and carrot cake – amazing!  The chef, just like everyone I’ve met through the NAC, all take great pride in what they do there.  Families, athletes and companies on retreats can stay at the Ranch for very reasonable rates.  The rooms are nice and of course accessibility is not an issue.  

The Ranch also includes a large outdoor space with a Universal Challenge Course, adaptive playground, large fire pit, indoor and outdoor horse arena and stables. The Program Service Building contains office space and conference facilities, and is where you’ll find the 32-foot indoor climbing wall.  The surrounding property has trails for a variety of sports, including Nordic skiing during the winter.

Several NAC programs take place near the Ranch, but not on the property like Alpine skiing and snowboarding, sled hockey, aquatics, and cycling.  NAC’s Alpine skiing and snowboarding program operates at Park City Mountain Resort with specially trained instructors and a wide range of adaptive equipment.  When I visited, I was curious how my child would be able to ski with us.  I asked a lot of questions and watched lessons with a child who was autistic and physically able to ski independently, but needed a different approach and understanding to his lessons.   The instructor was amazing in his care and commitment, and the student was having a great time.  Every question that I asked during this tour was answered easily, even though my child’s needs are unique and very challenging.  I can’t wait for Veronica to snowboard with us!

To participate in the NAC you just need to be a member (individual annual membership fee is $20, $50 for a family) and sign up for the programs you are interested in.  Program fees vary, are at cost, and financial aid is available.

My family is scheduled for adaptive ski/snowboard lessons, and sessions at the climbing wall, horse therapy and sled hockey.  I will be writing about all our experiences in hopes to provide other families good information and inspiration to try it for themselves. 

Read other Snowmamas' NAC experiences: 


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Comment posted by Kristen on February 7, 2012 1:33 PM MST

I'm so incredibly impressed by this program! Would love to tour the facilities someday. Thanks for the information - I am passing to a family that I know seeks out these types of opportunies.

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