A certified guide skies with a child. The children are from the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and Blind and throughout the state. Skiing allows them “to use their orientation and mobility skills,” says Christine Lewis of the Morgantown Lions Club. PHOTOS VICTORIA WEEKS A GREAT DAY ON THE SLOPES It takes practice to navigate the hills at Timberline Resort in Davis, where the most recent ski day was held. By the end of the day some skiers, if they have at least some vision, are able to ski without a guide. The blind children have heard the cautionary words from well-meaning people their whole lives: “Be careful.” “Slow down.” “You’ll hurt yourself.” Safety comes first on the slopes. What comes next are peals of laughter, squeals of fun and a pride in mastering—or, at the least, gamely trying—a new activity. “Many of them have never gone this fast at anything,” says Lion Donna Brown, a teacher at the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and Blind. “When they don’t fall they get a sense of accomplishment. When they finally ski on their own [without holding a pole held by a certified guide], they get to ski like everyone else.” For nearly 40 years Lions of West Virginia have hosted days of skiing for the blind and visually impaired and then for the deaf. The weather sometimes does not fully cooperate. The thermometer can plunge far below freezing. But a day on the slopes can’t be beat. Well, at least the children feel that way. “I prefer cross country,” says Brown, who is blind. “I have more success at that.” Riding the chairlift up is almost as much fun as skiing down A skier gives her guide a rest. Making friends on the slopes is a cherished part of the day. Hot chocolate inside the lodge and a pizza party in the evening help bond the skiers. The skiers develop a rapport with their guides For some, snow mostly has been an inconvenience. “It’s the first time to get out in the snow, to play in the snow,” says Lewis. Want to learn more about Lions' sight programs? Find out how Lions are saving sight in their communities and around the world.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
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