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Accessibility, Inclusivity and Well-Being can enrich the quality of life for children and adults with life-changing medical and health-related conditions through empowering snow sports and winter mountain experiences

PRESS RELEASE Ski 2 Freedom's Beneficiaries and Oxygene Ski School

Oxygène Ecole de Ski (La Plagne) together with Ski 2 Freedom Foundation help make some dream holidays come true and bring a smile to the faces of some very special clients……….

How did these dream holidays come about? Because, of a new partnership between several independent ski schools and Ski 2 Freedom Foundation. With the high standards, integrity and vision which form the essence of a group of individual ski schools under the umbrella of organisation, L’Ecole Ski de Internationale, it is not surprising that a number of them offer snow-sport activities for children and adults with a disability or special need.

Oxygène Ecole de Ski located in La Plagne, shows the same enthusiasm and dedication for handiski. The ski school, under the direction of Bertrand de Monvallier, along with the handiski instructors Julien, Adrien and Jenny have helped give a number of people who contacted Ski 2 Freedom an exciting, exhilarating and magical holiday.

Laurence Shimmin (15) severely disabled with cerebral palsy enjoyed his first ever ski holiday whizzing around the Paradiski with Oxygène. As his father said “Adrien was excellent. On the initial day Laurence was making a lot of noise and was very agitated. Adrien asked me how he should respond and my advice was to go as fast as he possibly could! The skiing was excellent. Laurence negotiated blue, red and black runs. One of the black runs was heavily mogulled. There was also a little bit of off piste skiing. He also took him on half-pipes and over bumps, which Laurence found to be extremely enjoyable. One day we joined another member of Oxygène who was taking a disabled person handiskiing and this was also enjoyable.

What was also particularly good is that Oxygène provided lessons to all other members of the party and every person, regardless of the level of ability, thought the instruction to be very good. The members of the party who had never skied before made significant progress and enjoyed their lessons. Laurence’s twin brother was taken on an off piste course which tested him and amongst the best skiing that he has ever experienced. It made it a true family holiday.”

The flexibility that Bertrand, his team and Ski 2 Freedom are able to offer extends also to the independent skier wanting to enjoy the mountains. Hiring out equipment is not a problem and this along with a guide for a couple of days appeared to be the best solution for Graham Brierley, a good independent sit-skier, who was coming to La Plagne with friends. In the end he decided to try out a ski from Tessier with the idea of buying a similar one for next season. Although Graham did not take an instructor from Oxygène the ski school still showed how geared up they are for disabled skiers. As Graham wrote and told Ski 2 Freedom “Just a point about Oxygène. We were just finishing off skiing for the day and I was just getting out of the bob outside their shop, we had missed the last chair up to where we went to our chalet and so were going to get the bus back. Just as we were doing that one of the Oxygène people walked past and told us to be careful if we skied on the road as we could get a fine from the police (I never knew this!). He then asked where we were going and offered to take us back in 5 minutes. We of course accepted his very kind offer. I don’t actually know if he thought we had just finished a lesson with them or not, anyway we did not turn down an offer of a lift. So I would give a big thumbs up for them.”

Much of the work undertaken by Ski 2 Freedom to ensure that someone with a disability gets the right instruction and equipment involves an enormous amount of time speaking directly with the ski school. Disabled clients play quite a small part in the overall business of a ski school and it would be understandable, especially during peak periods, if staff were short of time or busy with the reservations of other clients. But, with Oxygène and ZigZag, no request for information goes unanswered nothing is too much trouble and there is always a way to try and accommodate the needs of a disabled snow-sport enthusiast.

Ski 2 Freedom is about choice, knowledge and information. Providing access to the mountains so that everyone, whatever their disability, can enjoy the thrill, exhilaration, speed, beauty and magic that is found on the snowy slopes of the French Alps. The Ski Schools actually facilitate these choices, which is why we think this new partnership is proving so successful.

“Thank you for everything you did for Oxygène this year. This season is now over and I must congratulate you for all the great commitment you put into Ski 2 Freedom.” Oxygène La Plagne

France is rich in the number of places where people can enjoy the mountains and snow. With you, it is everybody who will be able to benefit. See you on the slopes next winter!

Catherine Cosby
Directrice et Fondatrice
Ski 2 Freedom Foundation