Disabled snow sports charity takes on hot coals challenge

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A CHARITY with a difference is appealing for much needed funds.

Sunderland Adaptive Snowsports (SAS) launched in 2009 with the aim to give disabled youngsters the chance to experience snowsports.

A partnership was developed with the charity Disability Snowsports UK and together they ran a residential week of activities in the French Alps.

Following the great success of the trip, in March 2012, SAS became a registered charity – but are struggling for finances.

Chairman Mike Stansfield said: “It started after we did a consultation with physically disabled young people and they said they wanted to be able to do the same things as their friends like camping and skiing trips.

“We thought the trip to the Alps would just be giving them the experience of that opportunity but then they realised that they could do things like being away from home and it improved their self worth and self value.”

The charity offers a programme of 40 weekly skiing coaching sessions which includes trips to ski slopes in Silksworth, Sunderland and aims to motivate young disabled people to take part.

Next year the charity is hoping to take youngsters overseas trip for seven days but are struggling to fund it because of government cuts.

Mike said: “For a school to take pupils on a skiing trip to France or Italy on a bus for 31 hours, it can cost £800 to £900, but for us it can cost around £2,300.

“The provision of comprehensive care planning, adaptive transport, qualified ski instructors and specialist equipment are very expensive.

“Previously, we had support from Sunderland City Council but they are making cuts and that is now not available. Parents are asked to make a contribution but the rest is raised throughout the year.”

To try and raise the much needed funds, SAS put on a weekend of fundraising activities, including a Winter family funday at Moorhouse Adventure Centre, Houghton-le-Spring. As well as archery and climbing walls, the event saw volunteers taking part in the toe-tingling firewalk, where they braced a walk over hot coals.

Mike added: “So far this year we have raised £17,000 but we are hoping that money raised from these events will take that amount up to around £24,000.”

Twitter: @Sunderlandecho

“We want to be able to expand to include young people who have learning difficulties such as autism but we want to do that in a managed way and that includes costs. At the moment, I am the only qualified instructor so we want to be able to train up more volunteers and we need partners and sponsors to ensure this experience can be achieved by more disabled young people in the future.”

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho