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Montrose Olathe Adaptive Sports Program

MOASP was created to help level the playing field so that all students can experience recreational activities without facing an undue financial burden.
Description
Western Colorado offers nationally acclaimed venues for recreational activities for the children who have the privilege to grow up here. Skiing and snowboarding is an annual tradition, and an important part of the culture of the Western Slope. For children living with a moderate to severe disability, this recreational experience is often unavailable, simply due to the high cost associated with the necessary accommodations to make it safe and enjoyable. As a result, these children are forced to sit on the sidelines and only learn of this Colorado tradition through stories from their classmates, friends, and family. Fortunately for children living with disabilities enrolled in the Montrose County School District, the Montrose Olathe Adapted Sports Program (MOASP) was created to help level the playing field so that all students can experience and choose to participate in recreational activities without facing an undue financial burden. 

For the past 25 years, students with moderate to severe disabilities enrolled in MOASP have participated in skiing and snowboarding lessons in Telluride through the Telluride Adaptive Ski Program (TASP). The results for the participating students have been remarkable. Many of the outcomes, such as increased self-confidence, overcoming fear, developing appropriate social connections, and demonstrating socially appropriate behaviors for the environment are not measurable by traditional standards, but are indeed direct benefits to our students with disabilities. Additionally, numerous past participants have exited the school program and continued to enjoy recreational skiing as adults, reinforcing the benefits of the program.

The student population enrolled in MOASP includes individuals with disabilities ranging from physical and intellectual to social and emotional. General population activities are not always readily available to individuals with disabilities, as they often require additional time and specific instructional techniques to master the basics of activities that come very easily to their non-disabled peers. Many activities require specially modified equipment and instructors specifically trained in the safe and effective use of that equipment. The instructors and volunteers are extensively trained to coach and teach students with disabilities, keeping them safe and maximizing their involvement. MOASP has access to resources on the Western Slope through Colorado Discover Ability, TASP, and Crested Butte Adaptive Sports Center to give our students access to a wide variety of activities without the need for our district to purchase special equipment or require staff to get specialized training. However, because of the high cost to partake in these programs, many of our students with disabilities are unable to participate because their families do not have the financial resources needed to afford participation. 

Throughout the history of MOASP, actively involved teachers have spearheaded countless fundraising activities over the years to help fund this program. 72% of our students live in economically disadvantaged situations, qualifying for free or reduced lunch, and do not have the financial means to pursue these activities privately. As a result, the only opportunity these students have to participate in these activities is through MOASP. Skiing is the only activity that MOASP has offered on a consistent basis over the years, and that program is in danger of ending due to a lack of funding. Unfortunately, due to the financial downturn, fundraising attempts have attracted fewer participants and produced fewer funds, despite the tireless efforts of the passionate teachers in charge of the program.

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