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‘Sit-skiing’ gives students first taste of snow

Aug 27th, 2008 | By | Category: Latest News, News

KIMI ORA School has to put in twice the effort to get its students to the ski field – but they get twice the excitement as well.

The Thorndon-based school for disabled children made its first trip to Whakapapa recently and deputy principal Christine Jones says seeing the group of five students skiing was “fantastic”.

The students had numerous runs on the learner’s slopes in Happy Valley, one even choosing to do a jump instead of going straight down the mountain.

This trip was considered a test run for future winter camps and it went smoothly. “The school would love to do it again,” says Ms Jones.

To ensure that the students were well looked after, eight adults went on the trip. They were a mixture of teachers, physiotherapists and occupational therapists. A staff member from Kimi Ora and an instructor from Whakapapa’s Adaptive Learning Centre accompanied the students on each descent.

The students used a “sitski”, a specially made chair that is low to the ground and has skis attached to the bottom. The instructor uses skis or a snowboard and controls the sitski from behind.

Even before hitting the slopes, Arthur, Adrian, Peter, Rose and Genevieve had become used to getting in and out of the equipment at school.

“[But] they needed some coaxing to get in the sitski even when they were on the mountain,” Ms Jones says.

All the staff at Whakapapa helped the students to get as much time on the slopes as possible.

Instructors took students skiing two at a time, while the other three sat in the café – a great mixing experience, says Ms Jones.

“There was so much action happening at all times up there.”

Jenny Pearson, a physiotherapist from Kimi Ora who accompanied the students, says the highlight was to getting to see the students on the mountain.

“It was something new for them to do and hopefully they will get to do it again.”

The school and parents funded the trip but money was also raised at a quiz night. Petrol vouchers were donated by BP and $2500 by the Halberg Trust.

PICTURE: Arthur enjoys his first time on the slopes with his ski instructor controlling the sitski.

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