Emily Suchy was able to start para-Nordic skiing in part thanks to support of the Live It! Love It! Foundation.

Local foundation expanding adaptive sports in Revelstoke

Live It! Love It! founded to provide outdoor opportunities and adventure for the disabled

Live It! Love It! founded to provide outdoor opportunities and adventure for the disabled

COMMUNITY COMMENT

By Izzy Lynch, executive director, Live It! Love It! Foundation

Gorgeous views, a vibrant community and endless opportunities for recreating outside are what draw many of us to this mountain town. With ski slopes, bike trails, fishing holes and climbing nearby, the transition from our living rooms to immersing ourselves in the outdoors is a relatively mindless task. It is a no-brainer that Revelstoke provides ample opportunity for activity, resulting in a healthy and happy community of outdoor enthusiasts. As one of many athletes that was drawn to Revelstoke for that reason, I am very aware of the benefits of not only leading a healthy active lifestyle and taking time each day to breathe fresh air, and the empowering feeling of accomplishing an adventure goal that takes physical and psychological commitment.

However, I understand that getting outside and staying active is not such an easy task for all the residents of our community. When faced with a disability, finding adaptive sport equipment, and traveling to places with established adaptive sports programs is often too expensive, challenging, and overwhelming to be a priority.

Many Revestokians joined in on the Rick Hansen 25th anniversary relay in Revelstoke last week to celebrate Rick Hansen’s push for an inclusive society and accessibility for the disabled. For local medal bearers such as Drew Derosier and Pauline Hunt – who both live with the effects of physical disabilities that restrict their mobility – opportunities for getting outside and finding things to do may seem impossible at times, especially in the snowy winter months.

The Live It! Love It! Foundation was created last year out of inspiration by dynamic individuals like Pauline and Drew who have an obvious zest for life but are limited in their engagement in sport communities due to various physical, social and financial obstacles. The principles of Live It! Love It! are based on those of adventure and wilderness therapy programs. We encourage outdoor recreation and adventure as a method of fostering both physical and mental health, happiness, and positive and meaningful relationships with others. We believe that the benefits of getting outside and accomplishing adventure goals should not be restricted to those who are able bodied and that anything is possible with a vision, determination and the right support network.

Through raising funds, awareness, and connecting with other adaptive sports programs we work to support camps like Freewheel Whistler; a three day introduction to adaptive adventure activities for youth who have recently sustained disabling injuries; Hawaii Adaptive Surf; a surf camp for all ages and abilities; and also a Live it! Love it! sponsorship program that provides financial assistance for individuals with disabilities working towards their unique adventure goals. We couple our programming with opportunities for peer mentorship and mental training sessions to help overcome obstacles and move towards a healthier and more active life.

The support for accessibility and inclusive society that was witnessed at the Rick Hansen Relay celebrations last week, coupled with our towns collective passion for the outdoors is why Live It! Love It! is proudly based in Revelstoke. We have a long way to go yet, but awareness is growing and potential for Revelstoke becoming a centre for adaptive sports and adventure is great. Already this year, hard work from locals Emily Suchy and Debbie Koerber has led to the establishment of the first Revelstoke Para Nordic ski program.  There is talk of an adaptive alpine ski program on the horizon with support from the International Fellowship of Rotarian Skiers and we see potential for a number of accessible summer activities – with adaptive sailing, canoeing, kayaking, rafting, assisted hiking, paragliding, and hand-cycling all possible in our area.

This is an exciting time in the evolution of Revelstoke and with such incredible depth of passion, athleticism, innovation, motivation and talent in our community there is no doubt that together we can ensure that everyone in our town is able to experience the mountain environment that we all know and love.

A huge thanks for the enormous support Live It! Love It! has received from Revelstoke residents in the past year! Our programs have benefited greatly from your generosity and support. For those who are interested in contributing to establishing local adaptive sports programs please contact info@liveitloveit.org or visit www.liveitloveit.org.

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