The origins of CADS Alberta go back to 1961 when Jerry Johnston, then ski school director at Sunshine Village, became intrigued with the challenge of teaching young disabled people to ski.
He developed teaching methods and equipment adaptations that established the foundation for a disabled skiing program that, for several years, was the only one of its type in Canada.
In 1976 the Alberta Association became affiliated with the Canadian Association for Disabled Skiing, which was formed to coordinate provincial bodies.
Albertans with visual, auditory or limb impairments, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, quadriparxsis amputations or paralysis can all ski using equipment that has been specially designed for their unique needs. They are given the opportunity to challenge themselves to learn skills that enhance their self confidence and self esteem.
All of this is provided in an atmosphere that stimulates rather than coddles and that recognizes their inherent human desire to grow and develop through disciplined effort and acknowledged achievement.
Over the years the scope and membership of CADS Alberta has expanded tremendously. Apart from Alpine Skiing, Nordic and Water Skiing programs have been developed. Learn-to-ski, ski improvement and racing programs have spread throughout the province.
Programs are currently offered in Lethbridge at the Castle Mountain Ski Area, in Medicine Hat, in Calgary at Canada Olympic Park, in Red Deer at the Canyon Ski Area, in Edmonton at Rabbit Hill Ski Area and in Grande Prairie at the Nighthawk Ski Area.
To keep pace with the advancements of students and programs, all instructors are required to go through the Leadership Development Clinics where the updated teaching methods and equipment changes are presented. CADS Alberta is a leader in North America in regard to its clinic instructors, teaching development and equipment modifications.
The Canadian Association for Disabled Skiing Technical Committee is responsible for the quality of instructional services and is constantly upgrades its Instructor Manual, participates in research and development of new equipment and organizes clinics to train instructors and volunteers in the latest methods of teaching persons with a disability.
Since 1973-74, skiers in the Association have regularly competed regionally, provincially, nationally and internationally. These competitors have brought home a variety of medals, including several golds. Events have included the Paralympics and World Championships.