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Eleven-year-old Ashton Dunford lives in Utah. He loves skateboarding, skiing and cycling. His message is simple: blind children are just capable as sighted children. Find Ashton and his mom Hilda at @ourblindside.
Today I’m going to tell you about my ski experiences. When I ski, I feel like I’m on top of the world. Before I go to the mountain, I have to clip my boots to the skis and make sure that they are on tight. Then I head to the mountain.
Before I get to the ski lift, I put on my Blind Skier bib, so when I’m skiing down the mountain, others know I am blind. My instructor, from The National Ability Center, asks where she should stand so she is able to give me directions. She also tells me where she will be standing. She reviews how I will snowplow down the mountain.
Then my instructor and I wait in line to the slope, then we get on the lift. My instructor sits next to me on the lift and guides my hands when the bar comes down. We sit on the lift for 10 minutes before we get to the first run. She talks to me and gets to know me so I can feel more comfortable during my lesson. I feel excited when I’m sitting on the lift because a new ski adventure is starting for me that day.
Skiing is very hard, but my instructor from The National Ability Center helps me by telling me where to turn and when. I ski with The National Ability Center three or four times every season and love it.
I’ve been skiing with them since I was 5 and my first lesson was a little scary but I’m glad my instructors help me build the confidence that I have now.
I used to have to use a bamboo pole and my instructor would hold onto one end while I held onto the other end. This way my instructor was able to stop for me if I needed to, and also guide me while I was holding it. After I learned how to snowplow and stop on my own, I was able to stop using the bamboo pole and now I just need verbal directions from my instructors and guides.
What I enjoy most about skiing is the feeling of going down the mountain—it’s awesome. The hardest thing about skiing is falling and trying to get back up. My advice to everyone is that, even if you have a disability, you can still accomplish hard things.