The community in Collingwood and The Blue Mountains was a huge draw when deciding to leave our big city life and move to the area. Starting as weekenders, we got a great taste of the amazing people who spend their time in the area. Now as a residents, we are consistently overwhelmed by the how welcoming and helpful everyone is.
Jack Sims is one of the many people who have made an impact on the community – and our experience. Read more about Jack and his work teaching kids with different abilities to ski.
A long-term relationship for Jack
You may find it hard to believe that a lifelong commitment to working with people with disabilities would start with a passing conversation. When you add the fact that Jack was a teenager at the time and an older girl in his neighbourhood said “you should come work at Camp Massawippi, a camp for kids with disabilities” you can see why he jumped in at the time.
Although the relationship didn’t turn into anything long term, his commitment to helping people did. Over the years Jack worked in various roles that always focused on accessibility in some way. He was a camp counsellor for children with special needs, a childcare worker for terminally ill children and a gym teacher for kids with physical disabilities. Eventually this led Jack to the ski hills in the Collingwood community as a volunteer for kids with disabilities through Ontario Track 3 Ski Association.
Track 3 is a program for children with disabilities that allows them to enjoy the thrill of skiing or snowboarding. Jack’s first job as a volunteer was to drive the snowmobile. He wasn’t much of a skier yet and it was the only way to get kids with very limited mobility up the hill. As the program progressed, so did Jack’s own skiing abilities. Now he is one of Track 3’s most advanced and experienced sit ski instructors.
On the Slopes
As Jack continued to volunteer and spend more time in the area, word got around about his skills and commitment. When Blue Mountain ski school needed someone to ski with a boy with Muscular Dystrophy and enjoy a day on the slopes, Jack was brought in to help. After this, Jack got to know the right people at Blue Mountain Resort and proposed an adaptive ski program. Blue Mountain now offers private adaptive ski lessons, taught by Jack himself.
Jack is also on the AODA committee at Blue Mountain, looking at all aspects of the resort from an accessibility lens. “Blue Mountain is really responsive to everything we have proposed and goes above and beyond. Our goal is to create full accessibility at the resort.”
Jack was a weekender in Collingwood for most of his volunteer life in the area but he became a permanent resident just over 3 years ago. His only regret is that he didn’t do it sooner. As a parent of a child with special needs who has skied with Jack, we couldn’t be happier that he’s part of our home town community.
Community is such an important factor in making your town or neighbourhood feel like home. And if you are new to an area, it’s not something you always know about when purchasing your new home. A good realtor who knows and lives in the area you are looking for your Bliss Home can help with this. They can tell you the ins and outs that go beyond the demographic data provided on Realtor.ca. A good realtor will know of community programs, services and and events that would be relevant to you and your family to help you feel at home home and make your transition easier.