How would you change the world in 40 hours? Vail Resorts asks its employees that question.
Employees answer by applying to the annual class of Epic Volunteers. Now in its 3rd year the class is comprised of 25 employees, providing more than 1,000 hours of volunteerism to 23 nonprofit organizations. In 2014, Canyons employee Sarah Myers was selected as a member of the 3rd Class of Epic Volunteers.
What is an Epic Volunteer?
An employee of Vail Resorts who applies for the opportunity to donate 40 hours of his or her time to the nonprofit organization of their choice. Sarah was one of 25 selected to make up the 3rd Class of Epic Volunteers. She chose nonprofit National Ability Center Equine Hippotherapy Program for her volunteer project. Each week throughout the summer she will spend one afternoon working with three Hippotherapy participants.
What is the National Ability Center?
The National Ability Center empowers individuals of all abilities by building self-esteem, confidence and lifetime skills through sport, recreation and educational programs. Located in Park City, Utah, it is one of the largest in the country to provide recreational and sports opportunities to individuals with disabilities. The National Ability Center is recognized as a chapter of Disabled Sports USA and a Paralympic Sports Club of USA Paralympics. Each year, the National Ability Center provides thousands of lessons in programs including skiing, horseback riding, cycling and archery.
What is Hippotherapy?
Hippotherapy is a form of therapy utilized by Physical, Occupational, or Speech Language Therapists incorporating the movement of a horse as a treatment surface. A therapy team consists of a licensed therapist, trained horse handler and two volunteers. One volunteer is a “sidewalker” who holds onto the participants therapy belt to ensure their safety in various positions walking and trotting on a horse. The second volunteer is a “header” who ensures the safety of the participant by paying particular attention to the horse and being the set of hands to open gates and manage therapy aids (games & toys) so the therapist and sidewalker never let go of a participant.
Sarah explained that she chose hippotherapy as her volunteer project because her family had been impacted by the service provided by the National Ability Center. Her son, now 4.5, was born prematurely and was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at 18 months. When he turned two he began in the hippotherapy program to help him gain core strength and mobility. The program provided a fun and interactive form of therapy for her son as he progressed from walking with a reverse walker to not only walking but skiing independently. “Being a mother who works full-time, I assumed I would have to wait until Charlie was much older before I could volunteer at the NAC,” says Sarah. “With the support of my employer, I have been able to fulfill my dream of volunteering for the NAC years before I thought it would be possible.”
Coming Later this Summer, Sarah will share her experience and images from her time at the National Ability Center.