Skiing, sledging and smiles: a day out at Snozone for people with complex disabilities

This autumn, some of the people we support in Rotherham got to try out skiing and other snow sports at Snozone in Castleford. They were really excited, as they’d never experienced snow sports before!

A young person smiles while trying sledging at Snozone in Castleford.

Why snow sports?

Snow sports are a great sensory experience: you can feel the sharp cold air, the fast movement and the artificial snow itself.

A young person in a sit ski is being hoisted uphill, with a ski instructor behind him.

Sense has a strong partnership with Snozone, who have fundraised for Sense and worked closely with our charity shops in the north of England. They were kind enough to open their doors to our young people for a day in October. 

Having held some Family Days at Snozone in the past, we’ve seen the brilliant effect these activities can have on people’s confidence. The young people supported by our adult services were thrilled to have a go!

The people we support had the chance to play in the snow with sledges and rubber rings. 

Most excitingly, they got to try out the “sit ski”: a type of ski with a seat, made especially for wheelchair users. They were supported by a fully qualified ski instructor. 

How we made the day accessible

The people we took along to Snozone had complex needs. They wouldn’t usually get to try something like snow sports. They’d face so many barriers. These barriers include:

  • Not having accessible transport to get to the venue.
  • Cost of sessions.
  • Activities not being adapted to suit their needs (for example, not having access to a sit ski).
  • Lack of quiet spaces to relax in.
  • Staff not knowing how to coach people with complex disabilities.

We worked with Snozone to remove these barriers. First of all, we started talking to Snozone to plan the event well in advance. 

A young person and support worker both smile while sledging down a ski slope.

We made sure that the activities for the day were planned around the young people we support, and there was a quiet room available for the day. Snozone’s instructors met with Sense staff and with the people we support to make sure they understood their needs.

And of course, the session was free for everyone who took part.

A young person rides a sit ski down a slope, supported by a ski instructor.

An unforgettable day out

In the end, it was such an incredible day. It gave everyone a lift in spirits, and was a real special treat for the young people to enjoy their new surroundings. 

The highlight was definitely seeing the young people try out the sit ski, along with the instructor, Jimmy. They all loved it!

There’s another similar session coming up soon at Snozone Castleford, and in future we’re hoping to do more of this kind of special day out. Everyone should get the chance to try skiing and snow sports, including people with complex disabilities.

Two young people wearing helmets and ski clothes smile at each other.