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ASF staff and volunteer training – It happens at all levels

Each season we begin the process of welcoming back our experienced volunteer instructors, recruiting and training new volunteers, and presenting educational programs for our staff that help keep us on the forefront of adaptive sports teaching techniques. As discussed in the previous newsletter, we have spent some time this year celebrating the many individual talents of our staff of volunteers and the valued culture that this collective set of STRENGTHs create here at ASF. Our mission and our STRENGTH values guide us in the training programs that we participate in and present to our volunteers.

Over 150 volunteers gathered on November 6th for fall training.

Training of our staff is on-going all year long. The staff at ASF has attended specialty conferences and workshops on autism, traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, ski area management, social media, business planning and marketing, adaptive and trauma-sensitive yoga, nutrition and personal training, adventure-based counseling, leadership in disabled sports, and snowsports education. We have been busy applying what we’ve learned on a variety of fronts and at a variety of levels:

· We presented half-day programs on November 6 and 13 to all of our returning staff on autism and understanding students on the autism spectrum better. The program featured a panel discussion on autism. The panel consisted of experts in autism education, health and fitness, as well as parents of children with autism spectrum disorders who have been students at ASF. Thanks to the ASF parents and volunteers who made this presentation possible. Our success with teaching students with autism has led to an increasing population of students in our programs.
· We’ve produced informational booklets for the benefit of students with autism for their families and other interested ski school programs. We’ve used these booklets and associated presentations in the training of our volunteers this season, and have made some of these resources available online.
· We’ve begun a social media campaign to expand our supporter base and the exposure of the work we do here at ASF. We’ve included our staff, our volunteers, our board and our family of ASF supporters in the development of this campaign.

· We started in September recruiting volunteers at local colleges and began our multi-day hiring clinics in mid-October. In addition to basic program overview information and training on various disabilities and adaptive equipment, we conducted numerous experiential learning exercises to begin the training process of learning how to teach and communicate. The last two days of the hiring clinic will take place on snow, hopefully, so that our new staff of 50+ volunteers is ready to assist our more experienced instructors before we open 7-days-per-week at the Christmas holiday. Hopefully, our hiring and training programs inspire continued learning and value to each participant. We are certainly proud of all of our young instructors and their enthusiasm, their desire to teach, and their valuable service to our students.
· The ASF instructor training program continues throughout the season for new staff and experienced staff alike. We provide hands-on training for all types of adaptive skiing and snowboarding equipment. We provide training for instructors taking leadership and training roles, as well as training for inexperienced instructors. We provide training for instructors seeking certification in ski, snowboard and adaptive instruction. The more trained volunteers we have, the more students we can accept into our programs. Because we have students with many disabilities and at many skill levels, including competitive athletes, training is a vital part of our successful adaptive program.

Simulating snowboarding sensations on a dolly.

Of course, ASF is a year-round operation serving the needs of our disabled students during the winter, summer and fall. As we’ve expanded our talents in the areas of kayaking and canoeing, trauma-sensitive yoga, and strength-based adventure programs, we’ve been able to enhance our summer programs and the services we can provide to our Support Our Troops and Wounded Warrior Project programs. We are happy to welcome more Support Our Troop events in 2011.

We are very thankful to our many winter volunteers who choose to share their expertise with other instructors through winter snowsports training and teamwork, as well as those who also choose to help us expand our special warrior events and summer programs. We believe that our STRENGTH-based value system that inspires the cooperative spirit of helping one another out amongst our staff and family of volunteers is both an important part of our vision here at ASF, as well as the foundation of our training program. Training happens at all levels.