National Ability Center ready for some COVID-safe snow days
Pandemic protocols are updated often
The National Ability Center is ready to play in the snow.
The nonprofit organization that provides recreational activities for people of all abilities is now offering winter programming that includes adaptive skiing, snowboard, snowshoeing and fat-tire biking in pandemic-safe settings, 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 that program, and we always get excited when things start ramping up over there.”
Although some of the sessions have been toned back this year due to the coronavirus, there are still plenty of lessons going out the door, Meyer said.
The NAC also offers a Nordic winter program that includes cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, fat-tire biking and indoor climbing, and there are different ways people can participate in those programs, according to Meyer.
“We offer individual lessons, where people can sign up one time for one lesson and head out on the snow with an instructor, learn some things and be done,” she said. “This is great for people who are just visiting town who need an activity for a day.”
The NAC also offers ongoing lessons that residents and long-term visitors could join, Meyer said.
“This is five or six weeks of consecutive sessions in the same program that works on skill development and progression,” she said.
These sessions are open to individuals or groups.
“Right now our group sessions are focusing on household groups, folks who are COVID ready, so we don’t have to worry too much about social distancing for them,” Meyer said. “We just have to worry about it for just our staff.”
Another group offering is the NAC’s QuaranTeam Camps of the winter offerings that are open to people who live in the same household during this time, she said.
“The camp scene will also offer some crafts or other activities that people can participate in before or after they participate in one of our programs,” Meyer said.
The National Ability Center also continues to offer military family days.
“Service members or veterans can come out with their friends and family to participate in our programming,” Meyer said. “We also have overnight, Veterans Administration-funded retreats as well.”
If people visit the website and have trouble 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 reservation team that is more than happy to walk someone through the registration project or schedule some custom programming,” she said.
All sessions, including the NAC’s adaptive equestrian lessons, follow strict coronavirus protocols.
“Generally speaking people can show up to the National Ability Center with an approved double-layer face covering, and once you get here you will go through a health screening of four simple questions,” Meyer said.
Once participants pass the health screening, they are sent to their program area where they will be greeted by a masked staff member.
“During the sessions, all staff will maintain social distancing, unless they have to make some hands-on adjustments,” Meyer said.
If a staff member has to go within 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 cool thing about doing that is we really have promoted a lot of independence. Folks who have relied on having help have taken this as a challenge and have learned how to do more things for themselves.”
In addition to the social distancing, all program areas and equipment will be sanitized between each use, Meyer said.
Since COVID-19 protocols do change frequently, the NAC has created a page on its website that lists all CDC-approved procedures.
“With COVID, what we’re learning is things are changing constantly, and since we are always making updates, the page will be the most up-to-date place to see what our policies are,” Meyer said. “While there are strict restrictions, we are still finding ways that are new and exciting to get folks out. It’s been fun to see how people are rallying around this communal struggle so they can get out and play.”
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