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Personal Stories- Skiing with Hemiplegia

Please note that these are the comments from skiers and their families and Ski 2 Freedom is not responsible for any of the information.

La Rosiere - France skiing with hemiplegia

"Before going skiing I was quite scared about it. My teacher Mathieu, from ESF La Rosière, helped make me feel more confident and was very cheerful. He taught me how to snowplough and to turn, I say 'just give it a go!”

  • *Matthew Howard aged 8

Having discussed all needs of both Matthew and the rest of the family Ski 2 Freedom's director Catherine Cosby was able to identify which ski resorts might be best suited for the Howard family. This information was then used by the family so they could make their own choice of resort – what made it easier for them was that the Foundation had already made contact with the ski schools which meant that Matthew’s requirements had already been thought about and therefore when Mrs Howard spoke with the ski schools they could discuss the options available.

“I found it very reassuring to be able to talk direct with Simon Atkinson, the head of ESF in La Rosière, and talk over Matthew's issues. He recommended that Matthew have one to one lessons and that if it didn't work out for him he could swap these for chair skiing sessions. Having this flexible approach was perfect. We were then able to reassure Matthew that whatever happened he would have a great experience!”

Mrs Howard told Ski 2 Freedom that they had decided on La Rosière

“Matthew's teacher - conveniently also called Mathieu! - was brilliant. He understood immediately that Matthew tires very easily and made sure that he had regular breaks. Matthew made great progress and by the end of the week was able to snowplough, stop, and turn on gentle slopes. More importantly, Matthew felt really proud of his achievement and had a great time!”

The Holden family enjoy the snow in La Rosière.

Half Term Holiday 2010 for James Holden aged 15 who has right sided hemiplegia. It certainly looks as if James will be adding skiing to his portfolio of sporting activities.

“My skiing experience in La Rosière was really interesting and enjoyable. I picked up the techniques very quickly with the help of Jerome from ESF. He was really helpful and understanding about my disability and was aware I needed lots of rests. This then helped me relax and therefore ski more safely and effectively. By the end of the week I was able to go down the slopes with speed and confidence.” James Holden

**“Thank you Ski 2 Freedom so much for all your recommendations and for making our holiday a real success.”

Mrs Holden

LECH - Austria skiing with hemiplegia

Skiing in Lech is the ultimate family holiday for Maddie Hind who has hemiplegia.

As Maddie’s mother wrote to Ski 2 Freedom:

“Maddie skis totally independently and the only thing that is adapted is the shell of her boots. We go each year to Lech, which is a family obsession as my grandmother first skied there in 1948 and our family has been going back several times each year since then. As a result we have many friends in Lech and have been fortunate that one of these friends is a ski technician that has been able to help us each year, along with Maddie’s ski instructor (who is also a physio) and adapted Maddie's boot. We add an insole with a heel lift, a wedge behind her calf to push her forward and also some orthopaedic felt on her ankle so as to ensure that her arch is better.)

**This year she has increased so significantly that you would think that you were looking a different child skiing down the slopes. This is largely due we feel to an Achilles tendon lengthening op that she had in November 2008. Whilst she skied last year she had only just came out of plaster and she was still much weaker. This year, due to her increased strength the improvement has been so remarkable it has made us all so incredibly proud of Maddie.

**Skiing is a very important part of our lives as a family and all we have ever wanted is Maddie to enjoy the whole experience. She has been on skis since she could walk however she only started learning to ski properly from the age of 6. . She now skis most of the runs in Lech with ease and has definitely been bitten by the bug.”

ST ANTON - Austria skiing with hemiplegia

St Anton - taking to the slopes

After suffering a brain haemorrhage as a baby, Molly’s parents feared their daughter would never learn to walk. But inspired by her family’s love of skiing, Molly has taken to the slopes and even taken home medals. Here, her mother Ursula Griffith describes how her daughter learnt to tackle even the most formidable of black runs.

“She has been proud of race medals, but her greatest accolade was a Blue Peter Badge, which she was awarded in 2009 for her skiing ability.”

Skiing with Hemiplegia in Sainte Foy Tarentaise

Skiing with a disabled son proved to be a magical experience in France at the family friendly ski resort of Sainte Foy-Tarentaise. The family had contacted Ski 2 Freedom to see if there was a sit-ski available for them to use with their son. Being able to enjoy a totally inclusive ski holiday is an empowering experience for a family and now increasingly parents are undertaking a training course offered by a number of ESF (French ski schools) to enable them to guide their disabled child around the mountains in a sit-ski.

The proof is in the pudding so to speak and as the family told Ski 2 Freedom: “Just to update you with respect to our skiing holiday!

“We cannot thank Ski 2 Freedom enough - it's such a wonderful thing for Barnaby to be able to do and, perhaps more importantly, it makes him so much more part of the skiing holiday - on an equal footing with his sister, Olivia, and the other family we ski with. Thank you also to Simon, Lionel and Agathe at ESF La Rosiere who were all so accommodating and to the ski lift operators at Sainte Foy!

**Our son, Barnaby, is six years old with hemiplegia and global development delay - he sits very well, but is unable to walk. The first afternoon we took him out on the uni-ski (with pilot bar), he coped very well, but didn't seem over-enamored with the whole thing. However, we persevered and the next day he was much more relaxed. His confidence grew throughout the course of the week and though he was still signing that he wanted to go home, seemed more than happy when we said that to get home we needed to go up two chairlifts and down a couple of reds!