Palmdale-area kids forget disabilities on a ski slope

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant Lensing, who visits campuses to work with students who have motor disabilities and began leading her ski trips three years ago, most recently took a group of kids from various schools to Mountain High on Feb. 4. The students spend about three hours getting one-on-one attention from six ski instructors at the ski resort. They use special equipment adapted to disabled skiers, such as the “bi-ski,” like a chair with two asymmetric skis on the bottom and a place for the rider’s feet. The children ride the ski lift with guides on their “magic carpet,” like a moving flat escalator in the snow, Lensing said. Instructors do not push the children to perform well on skis. The goal is for the children to have fun. “If they are able to move on skills and progress, that’s great, but what the main objective is: Kids go up there, feel good about themselves and feel like any other person. They are skiing!” Lensing said. Brittany Morgan, 12, enjoyed herself so much that she wants to go back and hit the slopes, said her mother, Lourdes Morgan, who works as a teacher’s aide at Yucca School. Brittany had played in the snow before, using discs and sleds, but this was her first experience with skis. Brittany, who has a learning disability, started on stand-up skis but didn’t like it, her mother said. “My daughter doesn’t like trying new things. She hated it and was in tears, but her instructor – he told me about this other thing they had, a bi-ski. He brought that out, and, oh, my God, once he brought it out, she was having a blast. She was laughing and saying, `faster.”‘ Mountain High has had an adaptive ski program for about five years for children and adults with disabilities. “The kids that we see year to year – we see an improvement. It gives them motivation. They can get out and do what everybody else can do. A physical or mental challenge is a minor bump in the road when they want to come up and ski or snowboard,” ski instructor Wes Ferson said. “They get more one-on-one with the adaptive (program), but it’s all about getting out on the hill and having good times.” The Mountain High program costs $55 per student, which covers instruction and use of the equipment, but the cost has been covered by the Palmdale Rotary Club. The school system covers the cost of transportation. “We are always looking to help the community. When Valerie told me about the children that she takes skiing, and they are disabled, we thought this is a great cause – to make children happy at least for one day,” said Tina Borzage, Rotary Club secretary. Lensing said the students thoroughly enjoy themselves. “The kids have come back so thrilled and happy. … One little girl (has) cerebral palsy, is deaf and cognitively delayed,” Lensing said. “I gave her her own picture (of the February trip), and she was so thrilled to see herself on skis. It means so much to her.” Parents go along on the ski trips, bringing cameras to document the special day, Lensing said. “I had a parent who could not speak English, but she hugged me. That said everything. She was thrilled to see her son on skis,” Lensing said.”For parents, when they can see their disabled child do something that they didn’t know their child could do, it’s like giving them such a gift.” Lensing had for years tried to start the program, but was turned down by supervisors who cited liability concerns, but Lensing did not give up and finally got the go-ahead to start the program. The director of the Mountain High’s adaptive ski program was an instructor of Lensing at Pierce College in the 1970s. The program got its start back then when one of Lensing’s classmates, who was blind, wanted to learn how to ski. Karen Maeshiro, (661) 267-5744 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! PALMDALE – Palmdale School District specialist Valerie Lensing works with children who are blind, deaf, mentally retarded, unable to walk or otherwise affected by cerebral palsy and learning disabilities. To give them a special experience, Lensing takes about a half-dozen children once or twice a year to ski at the Mountain High resort in Angeles National Forest. “I see how many kids are left behind, kids who never get a chance to be a part of being a kid,” said Lensing, a specialist for 21 years in adaptive physical education. “I can’t stress that enough. Just look around you at kids who are able to run, jump and play basketball. Every day you see kids dancing, cheering and moving. “There are so many kids … left behind that will never be able to walk. They have problems talking, walking and moving and doing the whole thing that we take for granted. That has inspired me to give these kids that opportunity.” last_img