Providing Miles of Smiles SOAR Specialized Outdoor Adaptive Recreation
Return Ski Route Picket Fence Area New Marina Black Bear Access
SOAR • The mission of the SOAR program is to provide water-based recreational and leisure activities for people with a variety of disabilities. • In September of 1999, $5,000 was raised to fund a three day Adaptive Water Skiing workshop facilitated by Anchors Away, Charleston, S.C. • 28 staff from the Center and Broughton, as well as a individuals from the community attended. • 30 individuals with various challenges, including developmental disabilities, learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and lower extremity amputations were able to water ski. • SOAR began in June of 2000. • This unique program was born from a need for increased physical and recreational activities for • persons with developmental disabilities, various physical, mental and social challenges. • Currently, the program provides services for people from the surrounding counties of Burke, • McDowell, and State facilities (Broughton Hospital, JIRDC). • Services include: adaptive water skiing, jet ski and boat rides. • During the first season, research was conducted to measure the Participant’s behavioral responses • during the skiing experience. • The outcome from this research indicated Participants’ self-esteem and confidence increased, • while behavioral issues decreased.
Equipment Sit Ski • Three Sit Skis – metal cage attached to a ski with a sling, and two smaller skis called outriggers for balance (small, medium, large) • Life jackets for the skier and all staff • One boat, two jet skis • Pull rope, quick release, whistles, two-way radios from vehicles to dock master • Padding, safety goggles, water shoes, first aid kit • Body board, life rescue tube • Tool box, tent, chairs • Port – O - John
Skiing Preparation • Prior to skiing, the individual must have written permission from their guardian (as required) • Potential skiers should be able to hold their breath under water for 10 – 15 seconds and be able to turn themselves over from face down to face up (with life jacket on) • Skiers should also demonstrate hand signals (take me back, cut me loose, go slower, go faster) so they can communicate with the Quick Release person on the boat • Inability to pass the water test and hand signals does not necessarily prohibit the individual from skiing. This is primarily used to alert staff to heightened readiness should the skier not be able to complete the ski route • The skier is fitted for the proper sit ski and life jacket Water test
Skiing • Boat is staffed with a driver and a Quick Release person • Picket fence is staffed with no fewer than three people • Two jet skis staffed with a driver and jumper on each ski • Dock Master who is responsible for communicating traffic issues, precautions to the boat driver as well as maintaining safety on the dock with community boaters to ensure minimal interference to the skiing program • Starter who is responsible for assisting the skier into the sit ski, positioning the skier to maintain balance during the starting of the boat and the skiing experience
Dock Master Skier
The skier is slowly pulled toward the edge of the “no wake” zone, at which time everyone picks up speed and the skier is up and skiing Skier Starter
The two jet skis position themselves on either side of the skier, maintaining a distance of the approximate length of the ski rope from the back side of the skier. These two jet skis follow the skier as chase vehicles. • The ski route lasts approximately 10 minutes. • If a safety concern is identified by either of the two chase vehicles or the Quick Release, a whistle is blown and the skier is dropped into the water. • When the skier is released by the Quick Release for safety reasons, the jumper on the jet ski jumps into the water to help balance the skier, keeping them safe. The second jet ski (jumper) comes in and jumps into the water to assist. • The skier can then return to skiing from what is called a “deep water start”, or transported to the boat for return to the dock. • If a deep water start is initiated, the jumper from the jet ski then stays with the skier to assist with balance, as in the initial start from the dock.
The Quick Release person maintains eye contact with the skier at all times, while watching the jet skis in their periphery vision for any emergency hand signals. This ensures the safety of the skier, as well as enabling the skier to communicate with the staff to end the ski session or ride the route. This person is also responsible for communicating to the driver how the skier is doing. • The jet skis can move up in positioning to check out any concerns about the skier and signal to the Quick Release, or blow a whistle if they think safety is being compromised. • The skier runs the ski route, and returns to the drop area, where the picket fence is waiting. • The driver, Quick Release and jet skis ready themselves for the drop at the picket fence. • The picket fence watches the skier, keeps arms in the air to assist the boat driver in knowing their position with the boat and skier. • Once the skier passes the first picket fence person, the Quick Release pulls the ski rope release, thus dropping the skier into the water close to the picket fence. • The picket fence then swims as quickly as possible to the skier to keep the skier above water and assist with balance. • The jet ski jumper jumps into the water and assists. • The skier is then pulled back to shore via a jet ski with a staff member in tow behind the sit ski to maintain safety.
Skier Jet Ski Picket Fence
SOAR A special thanks to “Riverdance” for the use of “The Countess Cathleen/Women of the Sidhe” composed by Bill Whelan The SOAR team thanks all of you who support our skiers. They smile because of you!