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Making the magic of winter mountain experiences truly inclusive and accessible

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Skiing with Cerebral Palsy and Similar Disorders

La Rosiere - France (ESF)

Matthew Howard (8), has cerebral palsy. His mother contacted Ski 2 Freedom Foundation to discuss her son's requirements -2009

"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 had tried skiing a few years before but kept falling over and didn't enjoy it. We decided this time it was vital to find someone experienced in teaching children with disabilities. Having discovered your website and seeing a young boy called Hugo with his instructor who appeared to have similar problems as my son it made me realise that there are loads of options and adaptations available to people with disabilities and that judging from other people's experience there was a very good chance that Matthew would be able to ski.”

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!”

"I would really recommend La Rosière as a lovely family orientated station, with a very positive, experienced and flexible approach to disabled skiing. I'd also like to thank Catherine and Ski 2 Freedom for taking so much care and time to help us make the right choices. We had a really amazing time and will definitely go back to La Rosière.”

Skiing with cerebral palsy in Meribel with ESF Meribel April 2011

A family ski holiday for the Aspin family with skiing, smiles and snow-castles!! "

Joshua (4) who uses a walking frame, skied by standing between the ski instructors legs. He will weight bear a little but not for too long. The bucket was for the snow-castles. The best part was the piste men who put a fence around the castles so that they were there for the rest of the week!” Mrs Aspin

CHAMONIX - France skiing with Cererbal Palsy

Ed Noel was in Chamonix in February 2014 and had the opportunity of seeing at first hand how a young French boy is progressing with learning to become independent skier using a Kartski (Tessier) and sit-ski (Tessier). Audrey is one of the ESF Chamonix's instructors for disability and adaptive skiing.

Villars - Switzerland

Why can't I ski too? Inspired by the Winter Paralympics. How a child with cerebral palsy can still learn to ski. Born nine weeks early, Nancy was diagnosed with hemiplegic cerebral palsy at 18 months old. In that first year, I was given little assurance that Nancy would walk, let alone be able to partake in sports. My darling girl took her first steps the summer she turned four, started horse riding at five and at the grand age of seven took to the slopes for the first time.

Last year, I took Nancy to Villars-sur-Ollon in the Swiss canton of Vaud, a small, chocolate box ski resort 90 minutes from Geneva airport. With 80 miles of smooth, wide pistes suitable for beginners and intermediate skiers, thanks to its accessibility and disabled-friendly facilities it has become renowned throughout Europe as the place for disabled skiing. Read the whole story.

France: Skiing with Cerebral Palsy in Arcs 1950: This was Mia's first family ski holiday in March 2011

Mia's mother had contacted Ski 2 Freedom to find out about which ski school would be best to give her the disability skiing she needed and we recommended ESF Les Arcs 2000.

"The holiday was great - perfect place for the girls including Mia. Everything very convenient, the apartment was great and pleased that we went for bigger size. All very kid-friendly and good for Mia though they didn't have a great number of choices of different disability skis for Mia to use so weren't able to upgrade her. It felt like Disneyland in snow with the girls eating Barbie candy-floss after a hard days skiing - whatever happened to hot chocs!!!" .

Skiing with Cerebral Palsy in the French Alps: disabled skiing in Les Arcs, Belle Plagne and La Rosiere

Mia and her family find laughter and excitement on their journey to a truly inclusive adaptive ski holiday in the French Alps

The first contact that Ski 2 Freedom had with Mia and her family was back in October 2010 -  "Hi, we are hoping to go on a family holiday next season to Les Arcs 1950. Our 8yr old daughter has cerebral palsy – she is v keen to ski – she is in a wheelchair and has restricted use of her arms. I think she would need a ski with a seat and someone holding her but would like it if she could be doing something with her arms such as helping with direction of the skis. Could you let me know if there is anything like this at 1950 and if so who I can get in touch with about it?”