Adapting to help our members meet their goals in the most challenging of Winters
Our vision is “The equality of opportunity for people with disabilities to participate at all levels in the winter sport of their choice.”
Early March it looked unlikely that the Government would allow winter activities for Australia. Membership renewals and funding were under pressure. As advice came to light of mountain services, limitations such as 'no contact' challenged operations which require the lifting of sit skis, or assistance of visually impaired skiers. Continued working with the resorts and communication with our members highlighted how for many Winter Sports was a huge goal and equally important for Mental Health reasons this unique year.
We developed a COVIDSAFE plan that ultimately transformed our entire organisation. The changes will be with us long after the pandemic has passed. We conducted a thorough risk assessment across our entire operations, identifying areas we needed to adapt. We researched what were others doing, what options did we have? Ultimately, a new risk management plan, controls, policies, procedures and training were developed. These covered everything from how to clean the equipment, setting up a safe zone for gear waiting to be cleaned, to more mundane things like what to do if we couldn’t use public spaces on the mountain – all focused on enabling us to continue delivering our inclusive Snowsports experiences. It was an intense effort across our whole team but by early August 2020 we did it. Key steps that really helped make it work:
At the outset of the pandemic it would have been easy to give up and shut down the organisation. Perhaps that’s what many would have expected us to do. The obstacles seemed insurmountable; lots of gear that would normally be shared by skiers through the day on the mountain, volunteers providing lots of personal support to our members and it’s pretty hard to do a temperature check to ensure someone isn’t unwell when its -7 degrees on the snow!
It would have been easy to say “it’s just too hard” but we were also cognisant of the health and mental health benefits of enabling people to get outdoors and have fun with their families. Finding a way, “never giving up” ensuring everyone can have fun on the snow is part of the ethos of who DWA is. While the pandemic threatened to stop us in our tracks, just at the point where the organisation was gaining significant momentum, expanding into summer as well as winter sports, focused on growth, we were always going to find a way to make it work. And we did!
Our initiative included a range of identified outcomes and evaluation: