Awareness in mental health soars as skiers and snowboarders with additional needs benefit from life-changing skills.

Individuals with additional needs and mental health challenges are gaining invaluable life-changing skills through skiing and snowboarding with Snowbility. With their slogan, ‘It’s cool to be different’, Snowbility are supporting their students, families, and carers to achieve amazing results.

They provide an opportunity to learn the sport in a safe environment, through an integrated approach that helps to develop their social skills, such as interaction, confidence, self-esteem, concentration, motor skills and motivation.

Snowbility was founded by Richard Fetherston, a passionate snow sports’ enthusiast and instructor, and is based at The Snow Centre, Hemel Hempstead – an indoor snow facility that is open all year round. Their carefully selected and specialised team of fully qualified ski and snowboard instructors are BASI (British Association of Snowsports Instructors) or IASI (Irish Association of Snowsports Instructors) qualified and registered, as well as experienced in both indoor and Alpine environments.

Richard said: “We have a team of fully qualified ski and snowboard instructors with the knowledge, experience and passion to provide tailor-made coaching for a wide range of complex physical, psychological and mental health needs, including learning disabilities, autism, dyspraxia and deafness. We aim to enrich the lives of our students, parents, carers and teachers we work with, by giving people with additional needs and rehabilitation challenges the opportunity to develop both emotionally and physically through skiing and snowboarding”.

He continued: “It’s the best job in the world. As a team we like nothing more than seeing the progress of our students – people like George who has Glaucoma, Sturge-Weber syndrome and is on the autistic spectrum; he’s an inspiration and we’re so proud of him.  You can watch George on the BBC telling his story. Once we get our pupils skiing and their families start to see the changes, then they all benefit; everyone gets involved. It’s truly humbling to see lives change in such a positive way”.

Snowbility’s integrated approach and flexible coaching methods help every student develop their skiing and snowboarding skills, allowing their impressive natural abilities to be expressed, to give them a sense of achievement and pride. This engagement, in a purposeful activity, enhances their social, emotional and communication skills, whilst improving fitness, balance, concentration and ultimately, self-confidence.

Snowbility is the first of its kind to receive Accreditation Status and Commendation from the National Autistic Society (NAS). They have also been accredited by the NAS for their online Yeti Fitness Academy where they deliver virtual activity sessions for students from Special Educational Needs (SEN) schools covering both hidden and physical disabilities.

Many students progress to a level that enables them to travel to the mountains with their family where they can continue to enjoy the benefits that skiing, and snowboarding bring.

To find out more about Snowbility, contact Kathy Morris via email at [email protected].              

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