One very important aim of New England Regional Ski for Light is to make available trips throughout the year for visually-impaired persons. In the winter, there are cross-country ski and snowshoe outings, whereas in the summer there are canoeing and hiking trips. These weekend outings usually take place in the mountains of New Hampshire or Vermont.
We also hold day trips which take place within Eastern and Central Massachusetts. They have included activities such as swimming, ice skating, canoeing, tandem biking, nature walks, picnics, and more. We are constantly discovering that visually-impaired people can access an ever widening range of outdoor activities. New England Regional Ski For Light has been so successful in its mission that both sighted guides and participants have traveled from as far as Virginia and Pennsylvania to join together in our events. With the continued efforts of our participants and contributors, NERSFL has a very bright future.
EVERYONE GAINS THROUGH BEING A PART OF NERSFL
Participants with disabilities and volunteers who act as sighted guides share the benefits of outdoor recreation and enjoy the congenial, relaxing and upbeat group atmosphere. People from all walks of life share in the experience of the exhilarating out of doors.
An important facet of the NERSFL experience is the opportunity for persons with visual impairments to gain exposure to new experiences and outdoor recreation skills through the one-on-one assistance of volunteers. It is sometimes difficult for people who are blind or have low vision to learn such activities as cross country skiing or canoeing through mainstream channels because of the degree of specialized hands-on instruction needed. Participation in NERSFL affords an
opportunity to gain this experience, which then can be shared with sighted friends, family, and other outdoor recreation organizations.
Most of the time, guides already have skills necessary to share with visually-impaired participants. What is needed is a willingness to transmit that skill. In return, they share in the enthusiasm and excitement that the participant experiences, and perhaps they learn to perceive their environment differently, no longer taking anything for granted. It is also an opportunity to make new friends and have fun. The number of guides that sign up for trips determine the number of participants--the more guides, the more participants.
NERSFL is far more than this, however! In an atmosphere of equality and sharing of fun, all participants and guides, from age 18 on up, come together to enjoy the experience to the fullest. New friendships are made and self esteem and physical fitness are boosted.
Everyone profits from the NERSFL experience. Participants with disabilities and volunteer guides alike learn from one another in both expected and unexpected ways. Here's what some NERSFLers have to say:
"I've gotten a lot out of NERSFL. I've become a good-enough cross country skier and I'm now able to confidently join in with my sighted friends when they go skiing or hiking. Ski for Light brings out the best in people, and, after, eight years, I still enjoy my trips with them." ~ Cindy
"I've been a guide for New England Regional Ski for Light for almost 10 years. Teaching and describing skiing to visually-impaired skiers has forced me to think about what I did instinctively, and as a result I've actually improved my skiing. Each trip is a rewarding experience. It is a good group of people, and I've always had a lot of fun." ~ Arthur
"Ski For Light (NERSFL) has had a tremendous impact on my life and changed it in ways I could never have foreseen. It has expanded my horizons well beyond the limits of my vision and I enjoy the many friendships I have made." ~Duane
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