Neighbors of Park City

Local student discovers community and confidence through National Ability Center

By: Izzy Crandall (Park City student), Neighbors of Park City

I met Brooke in 7th grade in the Family and Consumer Science (FACS) class. I would see her from across the room, always smiling while working on her various projects. I ended up being paired with her for a sewing project. Brooke would lead the fabric through while I operated the sewing machine. Though many parts of the project ended up in the garbage can, we slowly cracked the code. I appreciated her honesty and personality throughout the project. She has a way of making you smile within a moment of being around her; it is contagious and, simply put, powerful. I remember being excited to go to that class so that I could be around Brooke. After multiple weeks of talking back and forth in class, I walked with her back to the Special Education classroom. There, I met some of my best friends and my favorite teacher, Ms. Liz. 

I started coming in when I could during the school day, learning the ways of the classroom, and falling in love with the scene. Ms. Liz treated me like an equal, teaching me more than just concepts; she taught me real-life skills. She taught me ways of communication and quiet leadership. Through this environment, I formed a particularly strong relationship with Brooke. I started to FaceTime and text with her after school. Sometimes, she would show off her amazing country singing skills, and other days, we would both be working on “homework” (me studying, her drawing) peacefully together. Most days after school, I would walk Brooke out to her car, letting me connect with her mom and dad. 

Izzy and Brooke are now fast friends.
Izzy and Brooke are now fast friends.

After some coordination, I started skiing that winter with Brooke through the National Ability Center (NAC) as a peer tutor. This meant Brooke, a certified instructor, and I would all ski together. I was there as a supportive friend and assistant. We started—like many first skiers— on the magic carpet. Slowly but surely, by the end of the season, we were skiing off First Time. 

Throughout our different sessions, we used many different adaptive devices. Having sturdy metal clamps attached to the front of her skis helped her make a wedge that is used to stop more easily. We also used long poles held at either end to help with balance. But the most helpful devices were the tethers. Tethers are webbing that clip onto the front of her skis with carabiners, letting the instructor slow down, speed up, and turn Brooke by pulling on them. Without this adaptive equipment, it would be harder for Brooke to learn to ski. Now, I am happy to say that Brooke is fully off of any devices, weaving through the obstacle course, dancing, and laughing all by herself. I love seeing her gain confidence and independence through a playful environment. Lately, I overheard her saying to her classmates, “Oh yeah, I ski too.” Throughout the Park City School scene, skiing is talked about a lot. Understanding and being able to talk about it helps her feel a little more confident and connected with her peers. 

The National Ability Center has given Brooke and me so much more than just skiing. We have done summer camps, used adaptive bikes, rode the alpine slide, painted, shot bows and arrows, and gone through the adventure course. The NAC provides many opportunities with adaptive options to make them available to everyone interested. 

My friendship with Brooke has taught me more than I can write on this page—not just how to interact with the special needs community but also how to never lose a smile. I have noticed that anyone, whether an adult or classmate, can’t help but take in a bit of Brooke’s energy and reflect it. 

So, I end this with a thank you. A thank you to the FACS class, Ms. Liz, Brooke’s parents, skiing, and the NAC and their adaptive equipment for making this possible. And a thank you to Brooke for making us all remember to smile.

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