The National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD), the largest outdoor therapeutic recreation organization in the world based in Winter Park Resort and Denver, is looking for help with its summer programs. Anyone who is able to spend time helping disabled children and adults get outdoors and learn new skills should download, complete and return the online volunteer application at www.nscd.org/spring-summer-volunteer-opportunities.php.
The Therapeutic Riding Center at YMCA/Snow Mountain Ranch will need assistance Wednesday through Sunday starting the first week of June and ending in mid-September. The volunteer training day is set from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m for Saturday, June 1.
Volunteers must be at least 16 years of age, but no horse experience is required, as the Riding Center’s staff and long-time volunteers will train new volunteers in handling horses and helping with horseback riding lessons for disabled adults and children. All volunteers who put in 50 hours or more at the riding center can earn a free family membership for a year at YMCA.
Volunteers have a wonderful opportunity to gain horsemanship skills and learn more about a variety of disabilities under low-pressure/low-anxiety instruction using Western and English riding styles on very gentle horses. The center uses special saddles, bareback pads and other adaptive equipment, giving students with mobility impairments can enjoy a trail ride through the wildflowers and woods.
“You don’t have to commit to a set schedule,” explained Kim Bennett, director of the therapeutic riding program for NSCD. “Our program is designed to meet your schedule. If you cannot make the training day, we will work one-on-one with you during an actual lesson or schedule another training day if there are enough people who need it.”
Volunteers attending the training day need to arrive with sturdy, closed-toe shoes, long pants, rain gear (just in case), lunch, water, sunscreen, a hat and a sweatshirt to stay warm in the early morning hours. If they can’t bring a completed volunteer application with them on the training day, Bennett will have them available to fill out, as well as printed Volunteer Guides. (Returning volunteers must also complete the application.)
The Riding Center’s staffing needs are emailed weekly to each volunteer, and they can commit to whatever shifts they are able to work until all of the shifts are covered. If a volunteer is on vacation or too busy, he or she does not have to work every week, and each shift that they do work is greatly appreciated by the employees at the Riding Center. There are several weeks when Adam’s Camp is based at YMCA and volunteer needs are especially critical: June 19-21 and 26-28; July 8-10, 11-12 and 23-26; and July 31-August 2.
Volunteers are also needed to commit to overnight activities or help out for a single day of whitewater rafting, rock climbing, kayaking, canoeing, mountain biking or resort-base activities. The Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Winter Park Outdoor Center, located across from the entrance to the resort, has one of the first accessible trails in the state specially designed for sport wheelchairs. Created entirely by volunteers, there is a 1.2-mile trail system and campground with wheelchair-accessible tent platforms, picnic tables and restrooms.
The mission of NSCD, which was founded over 40 years ago, is to provide quality outdoor sports and therapeutic recreation programs that positively impact the lives of people with physical, cognitive, emotional or behavioral challenges. With specially trained staff and its own adaptive equipment lab, the NSCD can accommodate individuals with almost any physical or developmental disability. For more information, visit nscd.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 970-726-1518.