Tag Archives: Ashotsk Ski Centre

ARS_2748_On 23 March, EU Ambassador Piotr Świtalski inaugurated the EU-funded “Pilot initiative to promote inclusive approaches to engaging children with disabilities in society”. The event took place at Ashotsk Ski Centre, established within the frames another EU-funded project in the beginning of this year. The EU is strongly committed to promoting inclusive winter and summer sports that are accessible to all Armenians. Following the formal opening, Ambassador Świtalski participated in cross-country skiing training with children. The skiing trails were prepared by a snow grooming machine procured by the project that will allow for the expansion of the professional skiing area and the preparation of a dedicated area for recreational activities for children with disabilities at the ski centre.

ARS_2838_The Ambassador thanked everyone for coming and highlighted the importance of the project: “Today is a special occasion. We are introducing a project to engage people with disabilities, especially children, in winter sports. The EU would like to promote Ashotsk as a ski centre for ordinary people, a place where everybody, including people with disabilities, can come and enjoy winter sports. It is the end of March, but we can still see plenty of snow. It is an asset which should be used by Armenians! Our partners in this project are playing a very important role in promoting winter sports for people with disabilities. The machine which was procured through this project is very important, as people with disabilities need well-prepared tracks. I hope that young Armenians will win a lot of medals in the future, including at the Paralympic Games”.

The projectis aimed to promote outdoor activities and a healthy lifestyle among children with different types of disability in Armenia, as well as raise awareness of adaptive snow sports available for people with disabilities at Ashotsk and other ski centres in Armenia. The overall goal is to improve the quality of life and social inclusion of children living with disabilities. The project includes three pilot activities: alpine and cross-country skiing sessions for children with disabilities from different regions of Armenia at Ashotsk and Tsakhadzor resorts (attended by over 100 children and accompanying specialists and volunteers); a boccia (a popular ball sport for people with disabilities) competition involving children from 7 marzes of Armenia; a 4-day summer sports camp at Lake Sevan for children and young people with disabilities.

ARS_2588_As part of the project, the Armenian Ski Federation has procured snow-grooming equipment (Ratrak) to flatten snow and prepare specialised skiing tracks for children with disabilities. Ratrak is a unique machine that prepares specialised pistes for sitskiing, ski walking, and other winter recreation activities for children with disabilities. The project is implemented by the Coalition for Inclusive Legal Reforms, represented by its member organisation specialising in promoting disabled sports – Armenian Camp: Language and Sailing School NGO, and the Armenian Ski Federation. The project has a 9-month duration and a total budget of €47,900, of which the EU contribution is €44,900.

On 26 January, the EU Ambassador to Armenia Piotr Świtalski and representatives of the Armenian government participated in the opening of the Ashotsk Ski Centre in Shirak marz.  It is the first of three EU-funded demonstration initiatives from the “Citizens’ voice and actions in consolidated communities of Armenia” project.

DSC_4655This 30-month EU-funded activity aims to address communities’ capacity gaps and foster local development in a sustainable, participatory, and accountable manner. The project’s ultimate objective is to enhance community capacity to design and implement people-centered and sustainable local development projects, thereby supporting government reforms and managing a range of challenges. The project targets to strengthen the capacity of 52 recently consolidated communities – most of which are in rural and remote locations – to engage citizens in local tourism, namely outdoor activities and healthy lifestyles. The project will also pilot citizen budgeting in Armenia; this will provide citizens in 52 communities with the opportunities to implement small initiatives on their own through sub-grants. Communities will be supported through training and examples of best practice from Europe and Georgia. “Citizens voice and actions in consolidated communities in Armenia” is co-implemented by ALDA in partnership with the Communities Finance Officers Association (CFOA) and the Communities Association of Armenia (UCA), with the financial support of the European Union.

4Ashotsk already had a new ski piste, on which an international tournament was held. The ski centre is located right next to the piste and is easily accessible for training or competitions. The centre has bedrooms, a kitchen, leisure areas, and a high-quality heating system. On 26-27 January the Ashotsk Cross-country Ski Races event took place at the ski centre, with more than 400 people enjoying skiing and the races. The official opening was followed by classic-style races for children (2km), men (2km), and then women (1km). The programme included a show by Para Nordic Skiing, which provided lots of fun for all. Small children were able to celebrate the World Snow Day; people had the opportunity to compete in a media race with the EU Ambassador. The winners’ award ceremony closed the event.

DSC_5095EU Ambassador Świtalski highlighted the importance of promoting healthy lifestyles in Armenian communities and developing tourism: “The European Union wants people to be strong and healthy in Armenia and sport will help to achieve this goal. As Ashotsk has snowfall for 7 months a year, and now has a ski piste accepted by the International Ski Federation, we decided to make the Ashotsk residents happy and start a project that has great prospects. I think for Ashotsk residents it is very important to have such a centre – it will promote not only sport but also tourism. Our project does not have a big budget, which means that modest investment can and will have to make big changes in remote communities. This is one of 10 projects in remote communities in Armenia. In the future we plan to have a number of similar projects. The European Union plans to invest another €7 million in the development of tourism in the northern regions of Armenia”.