Colorado-based National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD) has pioneered adaptive sports opportunities for five decades. They’ve re-invented adaptive equipment and coaching methods and offered individuals with disabilities new ways to participate in athletics and improve their wellbeing. With the pandemic and fluctuating restrictions on in-person gathering, it’s been a challenging year to celebrate their 50th anniversary. But, they pivoted with a Dine for NSCD event hosted by Chef Jennifer Jasinski, and a virtual launch of their new brand on November 18. We spoke to Kim Easton, president and CEO of the NSCD about the organization’s upcoming programming, the new brand, and ideas to keep the family active this winter.
Colorado Parent: Most of the NSCD programs are focused on in-person, interactive sports experiences. How has the NSCD adjusted through the pandemic?
Kim Easton: It impacted every facet of our organization and we have had to rethink everything from our programs to our fundraising. It’s been a big adjustment for sure. We have provided online experiences for our participants since April, from movement classes to Hanging with the Herd (horsemanship classes). This has enabled us to stay connected with our participants while respecting the COVID guidelines.
CP: What does the NSCD have in store for winter programming this season for children?
KE: We are offering small group experiences in the metro Denver area in archery, airgun, and our NSCD Moves! Obstacle course. We are opening our adaptive ski school for alpine and Nordic experiences in December at Winter Park Resort, Devils Thumb Ranch, and YMCA’s Snow Mountain Ranch. Participants have to wear a face covering while participating, maintain the appropriate physical distance, and be independent in their personal care.
CP: What about programming for 2021? Will we see the return of the Ability Clinics in 2021?
KE: We are rethinking how to continue our ability clinics which typically would be large in-person gatherings. We may hold some virtual events or smaller clinics perhaps more frequently. Stay tuned.
CP: What ideas does the NSCD staff have for families with special needs/disabilities who want to stay active in the face of winter weather and tightening restrictions?
KE: This winter will be a great time to snowshoe and Nordic ski. We plan to offer more opportunities for these activities without driving to the mountains. Of course, we do have lessons available in our adaptive ski school for those who choose to go to Winter Park. (Lessons are half day and require participants to wear a face covering and complete a health screening). We will also be conducting pre-lesson conference calls to assist in preparing families for their lesson before they arrive.
CP: What can families expect for the future of NSCD?
KE: We are excited to announce our new brand and specific messaging for the National Sports Center for the Disabled, which is about action, movement, passion, drive, fearlessness, determination, and pride. We are striking through old perceptions, rethinking ability, and painting a new picture of what is possible.
We are…redefining what’s possible and fostering heathier, more equitable communities together that celebrate each person’s abilities.
We are ensuring access to a wide range of adaptive outdoor recreational opportunities for any and all individuals living with disabilities and their caregivers, this will improve the health, well-being, and quality of life for all of us.
We will continue to advance the industry through innovative practices in safety, instruction and equipment research, and development with academic and industry partners.
We also are working on efforts to grow and serve the Denver metro community.
CP: What are NSCD’s greatest needs right now?
KE: Our programs are life-changing and lifesaving. Participants not only discover the power of their own abilities, they transfer that confidence to live fuller, healthier, more independent lives. Our greatest need right now is donations to our organization to help us sustain our programs.