Students at the Oakley School witness a different way to ski |

Students at the Oakley School witness a different way to ski

Douglas Greenwood, of the Record Staff

"I developed this course that is all about fun and skiing," said Oakley School Experiential Teacher Bethany Elson. Each time the students head up to the slopes, they ski with someone in the community who has been highly impacted by skiing, she said.

About 10 of Elson’s students spent Saturday, March 19, on the slopes at Canyons with Ben Hulin of the National Ability Center (NAC) and Andy Campbell, the winner of the Canyons Ultimate Mountain Challenge. Both men ride sit-skis, which consist of a single ski attached to a chair in which they sit because of accidents that left their legs paralyzed.

Hulin, who rides in a sit-ski as a result of a 2006 motorcycle accident, teaches ski lessons in conjunction with the National Ability Center. He is also in charge of community outreach at the NAC.

Campbell found himself in a wheelchair after a 60-foot fall when a rock-climbing anchor broke in 2004. Both men began sit-skiing shortly after their accidents. They met this season and have skied together many times, according to Campbell.

"For me being in a wheelchair the mountains just take on a whole new level of significance," Campbell said.

Elson’s students took to Hulin and Campbell quickly as they both offered to answer any questions regarding their injuries, how they were introduced to the sport or how their lives have been impacted, Hulin said.

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"Since I work at the ability center, I could shed some light on people volunteering their time, working with our program and how people of all different types of abilities take part in our program," Hulin said. He began working with the NAC in September through a one-year contract with Americorps, which he described as "the domestic Peace Corps."

A number of students responded to the messages Hulin and Campbell shared with them about overcoming difficulties, according to Elson. One message is printed right on Campbell’s chair: "Die Living," which Campbell said draws a lot of attention from those who see him.

"There is very little that can actually stop you and get in the way of what you hope to achieve," Campbell said.

Elson said her students gained an appreciation for the diverse ways people can rise above their limitations to find what they love to do. The college-preparatory boarding school is located in Oakley and offers a unique curriculum to a wide variety of high-school age students.