Catering to people of all abilities (from never-evers to Paralympians), the National Ability Center (NAC) always has a lot going on. Even CEO Kevin Stickelman recognizes it can be difficult to grasp the organization’s full offerings. “The best way to put it is that if it’s related to the outdoors or adventure recreation, it’s probably in our wheelhouse,” he says. In addition to the NAC’s ongoing educational and adaptive recreation programs, Stickelman shared a preview of the nonprofit’s newest attractions.
In late 2019, the Pat Moran Family Foundation Equestrian Center opened on the NAC’s 26-acre Round Valley property. It houses multiple riding arenas; event space; and a herd of horses used for adaptive riding, equine-assisted learning, and hippotherapy. The Hub, a new recreation center (slated for a spring 2020 opening as of press time), features an indoor rock-climbing wall, a large meeting space, and an area for archery and yoga.
What’s on the horizon
The NAC is building a campground classroom to teach groups essential outdoor skills. “It can be intimidating for a family who has a child with a disability to go camping,” Stickelman says. “We can emulate what you’d find in national lands in Utah but do it in a comfortable, controlled environment—and then we can recommend a place to go.”
Speaking of Utah’s backyard, Stickelman says the NAC plans to diversify its outdoor adventures, including access to the nearby Uintas as well as five national parks. The organization recently purchased land in Moab that will become the future Southern Utah headquarters for rafting, mountain biking, climbing, and canyoneering. Also coming soon: a 2021 building to house summer camp programs and a new winter base at Park City Mountain resort.
How to get involved
Nearly 2,000 volunteers help the NAC every year, and volunteer opportunities are always available. Volunteers are needed to assist with adaptive sports, such as rafting, cycling, skiing, and equestrian; help with summer maintenance projects (i.e., planting flowers); or providing administrative support. To get a sense of the full NAC spectrum, “I encourage people to come take a tour in Round Valley,” Stickelman says. “It’s quite eye-opening for most people to learn about everything we do.” discovernac.org