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Swishing down a snow-covered mountain. Gliding along the ice. Hiking a rocky trail. Casting a line in the lake. All these outdoor activities take a certain amount of skill. Regardless of a person’s ability or disability, Rocky Mountain Adaptive (RMA) has set out to make memorable outdoor experiences for all, in the beautiful Canadian Rockies.
The charity, based in Alberta, began offering adaptive ski lessons in 2009. Since then, the list of sports and recreational activities offered by RMA has grown substantially to include not just winter, but summer lessons, camps, experiences and more. In 2021, more than 1,500 guests participated in 233 programs. Many of them learned or excelled at multiple sports.
Rocky Mountain Adaptive’s motto, No Limits! may have something to do with its success. The organization focuses on a person’s strengths and eliminates barriers for all people wanting to learn a new sport or participate in outdoor activities regardless of physical, intellectual, cognitive or developmental challenges.
Visitors not only learn new skills, but they also gain increased self-esteem, a greater sense of independence and increased mobility. Just ask families who have experienced some of what RMA offers. “I honestly didn’t think we’d ever ski as a family, but I was wrong,” exclaimed the family of Alby Troke who has muscular dystrophy. The parents of Madelyn Walker, who has an acquired brain injury, also had a memorable time with RMA, saying, “taking our kiddo on a kayak trip and not having to worry about set up and take down was so awesome. Take your whole family and spend the day with your loved one doing something active in the mountains—what a gift for everyone.”
The cost to learn how to ski, mountain bike or paddle a canoe is minimal thanks to private and corporate sponsors and partnerships. Rocky Mountain Adaptive stresses that fees should not deter people from participating. Visitors can apply for funding, grants and financial assistance through one of the organizations listed on their website.
In addition to trained instructors, RMA has a buddy service for visitors who want some company on their adventures. Trained volunteers accompany guests at Sunshine Village and Bow Valley whether it be on the ski slope or mountain trail.
There is no need to bring along adaptive skis or bicycles. RMA has rental equipment available for guests and their family and friends, allowing all to enjoy the outdoor experience.
Finding accommodations is not a problem in Banff and Canmore. Several hotels and lodges have accessible rooms. And as far as getting around, public transportation and many attractions are wheelchair friendly.
An exciting adventure awaits with Rocky Mountain Adaptive.