Track 3 is a story of success. Success not only for its growth over the past years, but for the hundreds of young people with varying disabilities, who, through the challenge of skiing and snowboarding, have discovered that in spite of their disability, they could live an active life.
Track 3 started in 1972, with a few amputee students and some hand me down equipment. The name Track 3 comes from the three tracks left in the snow by an amputee skiing with one ski and two outriggers. The program was funded by the Easter Seal Society, but was operated by a small group of dedicated volunteers. Some are still involved with the program today.
Since the program proved so successful to amputee youngsters, it was not long before those with other disabilities were introduced to the program. Once instructor-training methods were developed to teach these skiers, they too began to benefit in the same way as the amputees.
In 1987 a group of volunteers involved with Track 3, decided to separate from the Easter Seal Society, incorporating as the ‘Ontario Track 3 Ski Association for The Disabled’. Their mandate… “To provide the best possible program for youngsters with disabilities, using only current ski equipment and fully trained and qualified instructors, support staff and ski technicians.” To further this goal, Track 3 created its own Board of Directors, charged with keeping the organization constantly looking and moving forward, while remaining financially viable.
Over the years, Track 3 has more than met its mandate. The organization has developed a training system with detailed manuals that correspond to a graded instructor training program. Track 3 has their own trained, experienced course conductors to help enable new volunteers to work with the children on the hill. On an average year close to 80 new recruits receive level one training, and 30 or more instructors strive for level 2 and 3 certification. Although we are fortunate enough each year to recruit new volunteers, we also lose some volunteers for various reasons such as work, family, school etc. Each year we try to maintain and expand our volunteer base. This sometimes is a challenges, but we always seem to continue to move forward.
Track 3 has been around for more than 45 years and it has been 25 years since Track 3 stepped out on its own. It is working with skiers and snowboarders with a wide variety of physical and mental disabilities. The program has grown so much that new ski schools have been developed to address our changing needs. Over 450 volunteers actively participate in these programs to ensure that the students get the best instruction we can provide. With their ongoing support and the addition of new and energetic volunteers, the future of Track 3 looks bright.