Here to help:Sheena Haywood, left, with ‘‘snow buddies’’ Charlotte Tompkins, Gillian Budden and Jeremy Cusiel

NZSki’s on the hunt for people keen to volunteer some time this winter in return for all the warm fuzzies they could ask for.

Adaptive Snowsports programme co-ordinator Sheena Haywood says the scheme’s been running in some form or another for about 20 years, started initially by Gillian Hall in Wānaka and then expanded by Ross James in Queenstown.

Aimed at ensuring snowsports are inclusive, the programme relies on ‘‘snow buddies’’ who spend time at Coronet Peak and The Remarkables helping people with different abilities to ski and snowboard.

Haywood says there are a wide variety of people they support, including those with cognitive and sensory challenges, people who are non-verbal or have physical limitations.

Adaptive lessons are booked in advance and go into a calendar for volunteers to access, enabling them to fit it in around their lives.

While, for some, the adaptive programme could well be the beginning of a journey which may result in them becoming Paralympians, Haywood says it changes lives every year in many other ways.

‘‘The thing I notice, that I think’s the most profound, is when somebody with a severe disability — for example, maybe they can’t walk easily — you can put them on snow, you can teach them to slide and show them how they have control.

‘‘They look like everybody else with a helmet and goggles on, and they can join their family or join their mates, the level of confidence that goes into their world is huge. And they then become quite unstoppable in other areas of their life.

‘‘There’s something quite magical when they realise, ‘I can do this and I can be just like everyone else’.

‘‘It’s pretty extraordinary, changing the lives of people, for sure.’’

NZSki’s running an Adaptive volunteers intro evening on Thursday, from 6pm till 8pm, on the second floor of The Station Building (entry via the rear of the building), running potential volunteers through everything they need to know, so they can get a feel for the programme.

Those wanting to continue need to complete a training day, either June 15 or June 23.

Haywood says anyone who’s comfortable on snow, with time on their hands, wanting to support adaptive athletes is welcome and notes the snow buddies are ‘‘on-snow support only’’, and they’ll be trained in every aspect of the programme.

Additionally, if vollies don’t have a season pass they’ll be looked after, and if they do, NZSki will help with their skiing or snowboarding journey, she says.

‘‘It’s a win-win all over.’’

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