Making access accessible: Access Unbound offers discount card, good at 100 local businesses Oct. 16-25 | VailDaily.com
YOUR AD HERE »

Making access accessible: Access Unbound offers discount card, good at 100 local businesses Oct. 16-25

Wren Bova
wren@vaildaily.com
Access Unbound offers scholarships for participants to have professional adaptive ski and snowboard lessons.
Special to the Daily

For Katie Zinn, the concept was easy: win-win-win. That’s three wins, three groups winning — local consumers, local businesses and Access Unbound.

Zinn is the executive director and founder of AU, a local nonprofit organization that provides scholarships to those who could benefit from a professional adaptive program to learn how to ski and snowboard. But in a year that has been all-around wonky for everybody, she and the AU board wanted to think beyond fundraising strictly for their own mission and put it in the context of the community as a whole. And thus was born the Access Card.

Participating businesses

Vail businesses

  • 7 Hermits Brewing & Crespelle
  • American Ski Exchange
  • Axel’s
  • Blossom Himalayan Arts
  • Blossom Rugs
  • Blitz Boutique
  • Big Bear Bistro
  • Charlie’s T-Shirts
  • Colorado Footwear
  • Craniologie
  • DUE Luca Bruno
  • Fall Line Kitchen & Cocktails
  • Fantasia Furs
  • Fuzziwig’s Candy Factory
  • Galerie Züger Vail
  • Gib Singleton Gallery
  • The Gilded Spruce
  • Hatley Boutique Vail
  • Cotter Gallery
  • Lady JonesLamina Jewelry
  • Loaded Joe’s
  • Nina McLemore LLC
  • Northside Grab & Go
  • The Pet Boutique of Vail
  • Pano Boutique
  • Pazzo’s Pizzeria
  • Perch
  • Plata Jewelers
  • Skipper and Scout
  • Squash Blossom Vail
  • Sweeping Change
  • Vail Gear
  • Vail Resort Wear
  • Yellowbelly Chicken

Edwards businesses

  • 714 Home
  • AUSTEN
  • The Bookworm of Edwards
  • Cool Kids Colorado
  • Craftsman
  • Doggie Style Pet Grooming
  • Drunken Goat
  • Equilibrium Physical Therapy
  • Fox Hot Tubs, Billiards & Games
  • Hovey & Harrison
  • Inside Out Home Furnishings + Design
  • Kimberley’s Fine Jewelry
  • Kind Bikes and Skis
  • Lauren’s Kitchen
  • Main Street Grill
  • Maker + Stitch
  • Marko’s Pizzeria
  • MountainFit
  • Olga Barron Photography, Inc.
  • P.E.101
  • Peak Performance
  • Pinecones Vail
  • Q Boutique
  • Ruby Jane Boutique
  • Rouge Boutique
  • Salt Creek Home
  • Shear Colour Hair Studio
  • Slifer Designs
  • Vail Meat Company
  • Vail Valley Cares Thrifty Shop
  • Valleygirl Boutique
  • Village Bagel
  • Wags & Whiskers
  • Woody’s Bar & Grill

Avon businesses

  • Altius Physical Therapy & Wellness
  • Bob’s Place
  • Ein Prosit Avon
  • Loaded Joe’s
  • Northside Kitchen
  • Pizza One Avon
  • Rocky Mountain Taco
  • Select Surfaces
  • Valleygirl Boutique
  • Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa
  • Wishes Toy Store

EagleVail businesses

  • Rocky Mountain Taco
  • Ski Town All-Stars

Eagle businesses

  • Vail Valley Cares Thrifty Shop

Minturn businesses

  • Blossom Rugs
  • The Minturn Inn
  • Rocky Mountain Taco- Minturn
  • The Scarab
  • Sunrise Minturn
  • Vail Mountain Coffee and Tea- Roastery Cafe

Online-only businesses

The Access Card is $55, and it gives a 20% discount to most of the participating shops, restaurants and services from Oct. 16-25. But for added flexibility — and perhaps added confusion — some businesses are accepting the card for an extended period of time, or have tweaked the deal in some other way. It’s all clearly listed on the website, which bears checking.

“There’s a lot more to a ski lesson than the actual lesson. And that’s where you can see outcomes like this.”

Everybody wins

So back to the win-win-win. By buying the card, people are contributing to AU. But they’re also helping themselves, by saving, say, on coffee at Loaded Joe’s, home décor at Slifer Designs or physical therapy at Altius Physical Therapy and Wellness. And finally, the card incentivizes people to get out and into local businesses at a time when summer visitors have gone and everything is quieter.

The card costs $55 because that’s the smallest scholarship AU grants; it covers half the price of skiing with an adaptive assistant. But the scholarships swell to greater than that, too. Overall, AU picks up the tab on 50 to 70% of the costs of skiing or snowboarding with a professional adaptive program.

“The concept is to transform and heal the lives of people with disabilities and disabling conditions by enabling access to high-quality instruction and adaptive recreation,” Zinn explained. “Our big thing is to break down the financial barriers.But they’re responsible for a portion too — we believe that everybody should have some skin in the game. It makes people more excited, and more committed to participate.”

In addition to providing scholarships for adaptive snowsports, AU also works in tandem with other local organizations that help provide adaptive instruction and recreational opportunities to people with a number of challenges. They also provide scholarships to instructors for continuing education, and sometimes are able to help with the purchase of adaptive equipment.
Special to the Daily

An instructor with Vail’s adaptive program, Zinn got started in a volunteer organization. And though she thinks that’s a wonderful way to reach out and help people, when she made the transition from volunteer program to professional one she witnessed a marked change in what she was able to accomplish and inspire in her students. She attributes the change to the education, training and support professional programs can offer their staff.

“It offers a higher-caliber experience,” Zinn said. “So people can not only learn more, but have more outcomes. One of the things we track is what our recipients are experiencing as far as benefits outside of the actual act of the snowsport.”

And according to a survey of participants in 2019 and 2020, “We’re seeing that 91% of participants in the past two years experience a considerable increase in self confidence,” Zinn said. “And 74% see a lot of change in cognition, in their ability to learn new things.”

‘Kind of magic’

How does this happen? Is it predictable? Is it magic?

“It is kind of magic,” Zinn said. “There’s a lot more to a ski lesson than the actual lesson. And that’s where you can see outcomes like this.”

She’s talking about things like how to maintain a schedule, take directions and apply what’s been learned in a greater scenario. There are social skills, too, including how to interact with others, perhaps in a lift line or at lunch. And all of this is set against the backdrop of doing something new, or at least new-ish. No easy feat.

As one parent put it, “Living with a disability feels a lot like climbing a mountain every day. It was so nice to see our daughter standing at the peak and ably navigating her way down for a change. This would not have been possible without (Access Unbound).”

“Zac had a fantastic experience with Access Unbound,” enthused another parent. “We are so grateful for the opportunity for him to go and learn to ski… He was so happy that he got to have a ‘normal’ experience.”

In addition to providing scholarships for adaptive snowsports, AU also works in tandem with other local organizations that help provide adaptive instruction and recreational opportunities to people with a number of challenges. They also provide scholarships to instructors for continuing education, and sometimes are able to help with the purchase of adaptive equipment.

And now, a community of 100 local businesses, plus everyone who buys an Access Card, is contributing to these lofty goals.

“We are a ski shop. It’s our job to get people on skis and keep them on skis,” said Chris Anderson, owner of Kind Bikes and Skis, where the Access Card will work for the duration of the 20/21 ski season.

Anderson is a proponent of getting outside and recreating.

“There are a lot of things that are important, but getting out of your daily grind and getting into an activity is definitely healthy,” he said. “It gives you mental challenges and physical challenges. We all need to break out of the rut of the daily routine.”

Lauren McElroy, of Lauren’s Kitchen, is also participating.

“I always try to support local nonprofits,” she said. “But this is even better because it gets the local environment involved, and out-of-towners can participate, too. It’s great for everyone.”

For a complete list of the participating businesses, or to buy the card, visit the website at http://www.au-accesscard.org.


Support Local Journalism


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User


Trending - News


See more