Just as a bird flaps its wings to take flight, Julie waves her arms to express her joy: sitting in the seat of a Tempo Duo steered by a Swiss ski school instructor, she speeds down the slopes. This is the first time we are skiing together as a whole family, and for two hours, on December 24, Julie sings and her happiness moves me to tears.

Jean-Victor and Julie

That’s all it takes to overcome the reluctance I had previously felt about piloting such a device. I immediately register online for a training course and on January 14 at 7:45 am, I find myself in Villars, for three intensive days with the instructors and six other participants.

Among them, Caro, Steph, Aurélia and Mitch, sent by the charity Verbier4all. Verbier? That’s where I come from, where I often go, the next time scheduled for the beginning of February to ski with my family. They tell me that I could borrow their equipment for Julie and have someone accompany us for our safety. After a first day of manoeuvring the Duos (empty, it’s easy!) and a highly enjoyable evening at the restaurant of the hotel where, by chance, we are all staying, it seems obvious to me that the stars are aligned…

Jean-Victor centre, surrounded by his recruiters

But the next morning, as we set off in the middle of five thousand kids in ski school zigzagging around us and with our Duos weighed down by a few dozen kilos, we are feeling less bushy-tailed! I am conscious of the responsibility that my commitment implies: the weight in the chair, bearing the sweet name of Marcel, makes it feel like Julie already. And these 60 to 70 kilos, how am I supposed to lift them off the chairlift on my own when I already have enough problems getting myself off? The idea then crosses my mind: never mind tomorrow. I could always give up. Besides, I think I may have sprained my wrist.

t’s a gloriously sunny day, on Sunday January 16 and my stomach is in knots, but I keep quiet and off I go. I discover that my technique has improved, almost as if I had been up all night training. Now, with better control of my Duo, feeling it smoothly carving, turn after turn, I start to feel my confidence and pleasure return. At 2 pm, it’s the moment of truth; exam time. Luckily, my wrist no longer hurts.

Back home, thinking about how these big-hearted volunteers give so much more than just their time to people like us, parents of a disabled child, I realise that it is up to me now to see this through properly and that really, the adventure has only just begun. Within the week, I contact the charity’s secretary, Kathryn, to sign up!

And that is how, on January 30, meeting up with everyone again on the slopes of La Chaux for a three-day practice session, I got to feel for the first time the pride of donning the orange jacket with the Verbier4All logo.

Jean-Victor in Verbier4All colours