National Ability Center ready for COVID-safe snow days

The National Ability Center has rolled out its winter programming that includes skiing and snowboarding at Park City Mountain Resort.
Courtesy of the National Ability Center

The National Ability Center is ready to play in the snow.

The non-profit organization that provides recreational activities for people of all skill levels now offers winter programming that includes adaptive skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and tire biking in safe environments in the event of a pandemic, said Steph Meyer, Recreation and Adventure Program Manager.

“First and foremost, we have our ski and snowboard program at Park City Mountain Resort,” Meyer said. “We love this program and are always excited when things start to pick up speed there.”

Although some of the sessions have been toned down this year due to the coronavirus, there are still plenty of lessons to be learned, Meyer said.

The NAC also offers a Nordic winter program that includes cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, tire biking and indoor rock climbing, and there are different ways to participate in these programs, according to Meyer.

“We have one-on-one lessons, where people can sign up once for a lesson and go out on the snow with an instructor, learn some things and get done,” she said. “It’s ideal for people who are just visiting the city and need an activity for a day.”

The NAC also offers continuing classes that residents and long-term visitors could join, Meyer said.

“It’s five or six weeks of consecutive sessions in the same program that work on developing and advancing skills,” she said.

These sessions are open to individuals or groups.

“Right now our group sessions are focused on household groups, people who are ready for COVID, so we don’t have to worry too much about social distancing for them,” Meyer said. “We just have to worry about it for our staff.”

Another group offering is the NAC’s QuaranTeam Winter Camps which are open to people who live in the same household during this time, she said.

The National Ability Center offers “QuaranTeam” camps that cater to families and individuals who have lived in the same household during the coronavirus pandemic.
Courtesy of the National Ability Center.

“The camp stage will also offer crafts or other activities that people can participate in before or after participating in one of our programs,” said Meyer.

The National Ability Center also continues to offer Military Family Days.

“Members of the military or veterans can come with their friends and family to participate in our programming,” said Meyer. “We also have night time retreats funded by the Veterans Administration.”

If people visit the website and are having difficulty registering for an existing session or don’t see something they would like to do, Meyer encourages them to call the NAC directly.

“We have a reservations team who are more than happy to walk someone through the registration project or schedule personalized programming,” she said.

All sessions, including the NAC’s adaptive riding lessons, follow strict coronavirus protocols.

“Generally speaking, people can come to the National Ability Center with an approved double-layer face covering, and once you get here, you’ll take a simple four-question health exam,” Meyer said.

Once participants have passed the health check, they are dispatched to their program area where they will be greeted by a masked staff member.

“During sessions, all staff will maintain social distancing, unless they have to make practical adjustments,” Meyer said.

If a staff member has to go into the 6-foot social distancing bubble, they are required to put on additional personal protective equipment, according to Meyer.

“We are trying to reduce the number of hands-on experiences,” she said. “The good thing about it is that we really promoted a lot of independence. People who relied on help took this as a challenge and learned to do more for themselves.

The National Ability Center rolled out its COVID-safe winter programming.
Courtesy of Ping Ping Cortez

In addition to social distancing, all program areas and equipment will be sanitized between each use, Meyer said.

Since COVID-19 protocols change frequently, the CNA has created a page on its website that lists all procedures approved by the CDC.

“With COVID, what we’re learning is that things are constantly changing, and since we’re always making updates, the page will be the most up-to-date place to see what our policies are,” Meyer said. “Although there are strict restrictions, we are always finding new and exciting ways to get people out. It was fun to see how people rally around this community struggle so that they can come out and play.

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