WARREN, Vt. (WFFF) – Crews broke ground today at Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports $2.5 million dollar facility at Sugarbush Resort’s Mt. Ellen. It will be the second location for Vermont Adaptive, the largest year-round organization in the state to offer sports programs to people with disabilities.
For over 30 years, Vermont Adaptive operated in a 400 sq. ft. space in the lodge. The new three-floor, 4,000 sq. ft. space will connect to the resort’s current base lodge. Accessibility is the top priority.
“My sport means that people who have unique gifts like me can do fun activities just like people who are typically developed,” athlete Bennett Townley said.
Townley is a skier. He said the old space was not accessible.
“There were times that you couldn’t even sit down,” Townley said. “And I am one of the more abled people and I don’t feel like it was fair.”
Emmett, Helen and Erin Norton have been coming here for 15 years.
“This facility brings a whole bunch of adaptive possibilities to being able to get on the slopes faster and easier,” Emmett Norton said.
Skiing down the slopes with his daughter Erin brings them both joy.
“I can’t go out of the house with my ski clothes on,” Emmett Norton said. “If I go out just to ski for myself she gives us big pout.”
They also offer kayaking, canoeing, sailing and many more activities. Erin Fernandez, executive director at Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports, said the new facility will enhance everyone’s experience.
“When people arrive their experience of getting ready and getting out the door might be better, because it will be more streamline,” Fernandez said. “There is more room for people to spread out and get ready.”
They will have a specially-designed soundproof sensory room for those who need a break away from noise.
“So that there is a place for those kids to go and depress and there’s all the different comforting elements that you might imagine would be in a sensory room,” Fernandez said.
Townley said it’s essential for everyone to get out and stay active.
“I think it’s very important to get out even if you are uniquely abled since you will feel better about yourself and that way you can be treated like a real person,” Townley said.
They hope to have the facility built by the winter 2021.