The Ontario Track3 Adaptive Sports Association, formerly- ”Ontario Track 3 Adaptive Ski Association for the Disabled”, is an inclusive volunteer, non-profit charitable organization that teaches children and youth with disabilities alpine sports. The name “Track3” comes from the three tracks left in the snow by an amputee skiing with one ski and two outriggers. Ontario Track3 began at a single Collingwood location assisting a small number of young amputees and has since grown to a provincial registered charity with nine host locations, more than a dozen programs, and two regional affiliates in Kitchener and London, Ontario. We help children and youth each year with a wide variety of cognitive and physical disabilities.
Our mission is to change lives by enabling our athletes with the same opportunities and experiences that are available to other children within their schools, families and communities.
Track3 is a story of success. Success not only for its growth over the last 48 years but for the thousands of young people with varying disabilities, who, through the challenge of skiing and snowboarding, have discovered that despite their disability, they could live an active and full life.
Track3 was established in 1972 when a few students with amputations took to the slopes with second-hand equipment. The name Track3 was derived from there, as there were three tracks left in the snow- one ski and two outriggers. The program was funded by Doug Keary and Earling Morris alongside a dedicated group of volunteers and the Easter Seal Society. Doug and Earling put in so many volunteer hours to get Track3 off the ground and discovered the equipment that allowed the students to ski was genius and wrapped with engineering marvel. The perseverance of both men was incredible. Up until five or so years ago, Doug Keary was still involved with Track3 at the age of 93. Still putting forth his great ideas and ways to accommodate these special kids. He created training manuals, programs, protocols and space for many children and youth with disabilities to participate on the hill. They had some great volunteers to support them and some of those 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 1987, Doug Keary and a group of volunteers involved with Track3, decided to separate from the Easter Seal Society, and incorporate as the ‘Ontario Track 3 Ski Association for the Disabled” now formally Ontario Track3 Adaptive Sports Association. Our mandate became to provide the best possible program for youngsters with disabilities, using only current ski and snowboard equipment and fully trained and qualified instructors, support staff and ski technicians.” To further this goal, Track3 created a Board of Directors, charged with keeping the organization financially viable and finding ways to successfully continue.
Over the years, Track3 has more than met its mandate. The organization has developed a training system with detailed manuals that correspond to a graded instructor training program. Track3 has its own trained, experienced course conductors to help enable new volunteers to work with the children on the hill. Each year on average, close to 80 recruits receive level one training, and 30 or more instructors strive for level 2 and 3 certifications. Although we are fortunate enough each year to recruit new volunteers, we also, for various reasons i.e. work, family, school etc. lose some volunteers. Each year we try to maintain and expand our volunteer base. This sometimes presents a lot of challenges but we always seem to continue to move forward. Coming into the 2022 season, we have a waitlist of over 150 students waiting anxiously to hit the slopes. Unfortunately, we cannot currently welcome these children into the program.
It is now almost 20 years since Track3 stepped out on its own, working with skiers and snowboarders with a wide variety of physical and mental disabilities. The program has grown so much that new ski schools had to be developed. Over 300 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, Track3 can look to the future with such optimism!