Pamela Paspa, owner of Paspa Physical Therapy in Manhattan, sits down for a lively interview and discusses her passion for helping people with physical and cognitive disabilities learn to ski. Pam is a volunteer with the Adaptive Sports Foundation (ASF).
Q: Pam, when did you get involved with ASF and can you explain your experience so far?
A: This is my first year as a volunteer, and I was motivated to work with ASF for two main reasons. I love to ski, and I love my career as a physical therapist. The ASF is a marriage of both! It’s so fulfilling to help people overcome a physical or cognitive disability to get out and ski! The best part is seeing their smiles and tears of joy.
Q: Specifically, what is your role when you volunteer?
A: I am focusing my teaching right now on the Bi-ski, or mono skiers. I have learned how to load the bi/mono ski on the chairlift and how to use the tethers to help guide the skiers down the mountain. Not only do I teach the students specific skills, but I am also responsible for ensuring that they have fun and remain safe.
Q: What is one of the most surprising things you have learned while volunteering?
A: The other instructors are a great team. I have met a wonderful group of people, all who are very willing to volunteer their time to teach ASF students on the weekends and during the holidays. And…you know what? They are BUSY people! I am talking lawyers, teachers, businessmen, and doctors. I really like being part of a dedicated group of professionals.
Q: Can you share a little more about the ASF?
A: Well, I volunteer at Windham Mountain Resort in the Catskill mountains. It is about 2.5 hours north of New York City.
The Adaptive Sports Foundation provides life-changing experiences for children and adults with physical and cognitive disabilities and chronic illnesses. It is a non-profit organization and their main goal is to help these individuals engage in outdoor physical activities, educational programs, and provide support and community.
Students can enroll beginning at age five, and students live with disabilities ranging from relatively mild learning disabilities to more severe disabilities such as paralysis, autism, amputation, cerebral palsy and traumatic brain injury. Winter programs are offered from December through March and include alpine skiing and snowboarding. ASF also prepares athletes for Paralympic and Special Olympic competitions. Summer programs are offered as well and include activities such as golf, recreational and competitive canoeing and kayaking, cycling, stand up paddle boarding, and personal fitness.
Q: I understand that ASF also works with troops who have been injured in Afghanistan and Iraq. Can you tell me a little bit more about this program?
A: This segment of ASF is called Warriors in Motion. The program’s goal is to provide wounded warriors with a basic understanding of wellness, as well as the importance of lifelong healthful living. A variety of topics are taught such as healthy behavior change, stress management, mental health, nutrition and weight management, and physical fitness and activity.