Local News, Sports

C.O.R.E. Connections helps build confidence and independence for adaptive athletes

Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports pilot program offered in Rutland area
One simple recreational activity can have a huge impact on a person. For 10-year-old Cosmo Duncan of Pawlet, trusting Vermont Adaptive’s Tom Alcorn to lead him safely up the climbing wall at Green Mountain Rock Climbing in Rutland was that one activity.
“The climbing wall had just as much effect on him as the activities from the whole week of C.O.R.E. Connections,” said Scarlett Duncan, Cosmo’s mother. “He now wants to go up every wall at every playground. He got it in just that week. He couldn’t do mental and physical at the same time but in a safe, supportive environment he could.”
Cosmo, who was born with Down Syndrome, is just one of dozens of participants who participate in Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports’ C.O.R.E. Connections wellness program. Supported by the Bowse Health Trust, C.O.R.E. Connections is a multi-day retreat-like camp for people of all ages. The program emphasizes whole body health and includes lifestyle analysis, goal setting, nutrition, local farm to table initiatives, personal fitness abilities, and mindful activities like creative art, music sessions, adaptive yoga and guided breathing exercises.
Program activities mirror those of what Vermont Adaptive provides on a daily year-round basis throughout Vermont to people with disabilities—sports and recreational programs like skiing, snowshoeing, Nordic skiing, canoeing, kayaking, outdoor hiking adventures, therapeutic horseback riding, cycling, swimming, environmental education, sailing, indoor rock climbing, stand-up paddleboarding and more. While this C.O.R.E. pilot program is offered in Rutland County and surrounding areas, there are plans to implement it in other program locations throughout the state.
“Cosmo’s been skiing for four years but for the last two years hasn’t made much progress,” said Duncan. “I hoped the C.O.R.E. program would push him forward, keep the fun in skiing and it’s done so much more. He made so much progress in one week than in two years.”
Duncan said Cosmo continues to talk about his skiing and the program as a whole helped him regain his confidence in skiing, knowing that one day he could do it on his own.
“The spirit has been completely positive and uplifting,” she said. “Now he climbs up anything. He would never dare to put one foot up there before and then the kids were climbing. He went all the way up. It took him a long time but the kids around were clapping. He would never have attempted to do that before. He gained a lot of confidence, a lot of risk taking ability that he is lacking and he had a lot of fun.
Cosmo is just one of hundreds of people Vermont Adaptive serves annually with sports and recreational programming in an effort to build confidence and independence through the use of sports. People of all ages and (dis)abilities are welcome to participate. The organization serves people with a variety of disabilities including physical, cognitive, developmental and behavioral emotional disabilities. In the winter, skiing and winter activities are offered at Pico Mountain/Killington Resort, Sugarbush Resort and Bolton Valley Ski Area. In the summer, activities are statewide, including locations at Chittenden Reservoir, the Castleton Bike Path, Stoughton Pond, Pico Mountain and more.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better camp for him or better support,” said Duncan. “I was really happy he could reconnect and have positive energy with it. It has improved his physical awareness at school. One week made the whole vacation really special.”
Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports is a nationally recognized organization that empowers people of all abilities through inclusive sports and recreational programming regardless of ability to pay. The organization provides more than 3,000 outings annually and relies on individual and business donations as well as event fundraisers like the Vermont Sports Medicine 5K on April 30, plus grants and foundations to support its annual budget, which includes scholarships and expensive adaptive equipment purchase and maintenance. For more information, visit www.vermontadaptive.org.

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