Adaptations: The CCASC Newsletter 7th - Page 12

Youth Participant : Shannon Kennedy
By Mike Braham
Let ’ s make one thing perfectly clear : Shannon Kennedy can do anything you can do . Probably better than you can .
The 12-year-old student at Big Creek Elementary School can handle the green and blue slopes at China Peak Mountain Resort . She ’ s a good swimmer , and in the words of Principal Toby Wait , “ she ’ s a phenomenal archer .”
“ She has the same skills , if not better than her peers .”
Impressive accomplishments for anyone , but more so for Shannon because she has Down syndrome . The Central California Adaptive Sports Center has made it possible for her to reach this plateau .
“ She has no fear ,” said her mother , Lynn Kennedy .
At Big Creek , skiing is part of the curriculum . Everyone skis . But it soon became apparent Shannon needed one-on-one instruction to reach the next level .
That ’ s where CCASC comes in . She was paired with Michela Morillo , one of CCASC ’ s instructors for the first two years and then with Krissie Bergstedt .
“ Michela led Shannon to the point where she could ski green and blue runs ,” Wait said .
“ She could ride the chair lift , load and unload on her own .”
Shannon began skiing seven years ago . At first , she didn ’ t like the idea , but once she started , she was hooked .
One of the misconceptions about Down syndrome is that those who have it are limited . But they can do everything anyone else can . It just takes longer .
She had the confidence to think “ I can do this ,” her mother said .
Said Wait : “‘ I can ’ t ’ isn ’ t in her vernacular . A lot of that is attributed to snow skiing . That translates into everything else .”
Lynn said society puts a lid on some kids . She hopes that stereotype changes as those with Down syndrome show they are as capable as anyone .
“ Do not put a lid on your kid ,” she said . “ If we expose them and give them the chance , there ’ s nothing that ’ s impossible . It might be harder and it takes time .
“ How as a society will we know they ’ re not capable if we don ’ t let them try ?”
Shannon is part of CCASC ’ s “ Community Kids ” program , a scholarship fund supported by your donations that allows local children to participate in our outdoor recreation programs at little or no cost . If you would like more information about this program or are interested in donating to this fund , please contact us .