The following is Part II in a series of posts about the Pediatric Rehab team’s ski trip to Crested Butte, Colorado from February 8th-14th, 2015. Read the first installment here.
Manhattan is a city filled with Weekend Warriors. We wake up early to train in the gym, run along the Hudson River, cycle around Central Park, or hand-stand in our favorite yoga studio. For that hour or two we forget the emails sitting anxiously in our inboxes and we are physically and mentally in the game. My mornings regularly consist of a variety of physical feats, which provide me with the confidence and sense of independence that I need to start my day. After I leave the gym, the majority of my day as a pediatric occupational therapist is spent trying to promote those same qualities in the children I work with.
For the second year in a row, I have had the unique experience of taking my job out of the clinic and adventuring into the mountains with a group of teens with physical disabilities. During the week away from NYC, each member of the group is working towards the obvious goal, skiing or snowboarding safely down the slopes of Mount Crested Butte, Colorado. However, as the week progresses we consistently find the teens reflecting and sharing about their own lives and how their diagnoses have affected their individual experiences and shaped them. Many have shared stories of being excused from gym class or being stopped from moving around in class without permission. As an energetic and active individual, I often reflect on what my childhood and teenage years would have been like without playing tag during recess or running to softball practice after school, let alone effortlessly roaming the halls with my friends to get to my next class.
While the group leaders from HSS encourage sharing between the members of the group, this year Isaiah, a 15 year-old teen with cerebral palsy and first-time participant to The Adapted Sports Center’s Winter Camp, asked us what we got out of the trip. My initial response is how proud I am of each member of the group. Between the travel, 4 days of skiing, exploring town and the change in altitude any teen would be exhausted. On top of the physical demands each member of the group helps with house chores without complaint, either setting the table or helping cook in the kitchen.
As I flew back to New York, something about Isaiah’s question kept nagging me. I realized, selfishly, I am motivated by each one of them as I watch and encourage them to develop a similar love that I have for movement. I also realized that these trips motivate me to continue to push, encourage and open everyone’s eyes to the benefits of independence, movement and a little bit of adventure. Each of us arrived with a common goal, how we all accomplish this is incredibly different but the destination is all the same. I only hope this trip also instills in them confidence and the motivation to show others how much they can do and keep on moving.