by Senator Ross Romero
Recently I had the opportunity to tour the National Ability Center (“NAC”) in Park City. It was great to see all the work the NAC does in and for our Utah community. I hope you might consider the Center in your giving or volunteer plans this year.
The NAC is the nation’s largest provider of recreational opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Founded in 1985, the NAC has grown from teaching a few dozen ski lessons to wounded veterans in its first year to teaching more than 20,000 lessons annually in 22 programs. While the activities at the NAC are designed to give individuals with disabilities a chance to participate in sports using adaptive techniques and equipment, the bigger purpose is to help those individuals reach their potential as human beings. A physical or cognitive disability may change the way someone skis on the Greatest Snow on Earth or rides a horse on the trails of the Beehive state, but it shouldn’t inhibit their ability to be a part of society.
This year, studies by Harris Interactive and Disabled Sports USA showed that participants in programs like the NAC’s are twice as likely as their peers to be employed. Those same studies show that individuals with disabilities who participated regularly in recreational or competitive sports programs are more fit, confident and positive people. With more than 8,000 participants in the NAC programs last year, the NAC sees these results in many lives.
Programs at the NAC include skiing, snowboarding, the world’s only adaptive bobsled team, horseback riding, cycling, swimming, and archery, to name a few. During the summer, they host Discovery Camps as week-long day camps for kids with disabilities There are different camps for kids with physical disabilities, cognitive disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorders. Having a camp where kids can hang out and do things with others who are in similar situations can have great results.
Helping people discover their abilities brings with it a unique and wonderful feeling. The NAC records tens of thousands of volunteer hours each year because everyone from middle school students to retirees finds a place to help out. Some like to help with a ski lesson, and others enjoy helping at one of the NAC’s annual fundraising events. No matter where the help is given, it is always appreciated and needed. If you are interested in volunteering or registering for a program, call Jenn Carpenter at 435-649-3991. If you would like to help the National Ability Center with a donation to help its programs, contact Scott Lyttle at 435-200-0983. Much more information is available at the NAC’s website www.discovernac.org.