Promoting health and healing through Paddlesports for dis-abled veterans and civilians, the Team River Runner-Lehigh Valley/TRR-LV organization recently held an Adaptive Paddling Certification Workshop/APW. Administered by the American Canoe Association/ACA as a national certification recreation program for kayak and canoe taught to ACA certified instructors to safely initiate and integrate open water paddling programs by adapting equipment and best practices instruction with the focus on a paddler’s ability and strengths in meeting their needs as a paddler challenged with a physical and, or sensory dis-ability.
The two day TRR-LV APW workshop included ACA certified instructors and dis-abled paddler participants. The training encompassed classroom and hands on learning of adaptation development and instruction with internationally known ACA certified instructor trainers, Joe Moore and Kevin Carr followed by in pool sessions with those challenged with a mix of different dis-abilities. A third day was added to include an in pool equip. and rescue seminar for the TRR shoreline crew.
Adaptive outfitting, equipment, medical info interviews, limb adaptations, transfers, wet exits, scoop rescues… the skills and knowledge required to modify teaching styles, outfit equipment and certify ACA adaptive paddling instructors was taught with the shared intent to open the way to meet the specific and unique needs and safety for people of different abilities on open water.
Allowing for the adaptive paddler- regardless of their abilities, the opportunity to safely and comfortably participate on our water ways with the same performance potential as all others in paddling activities, including the enjoyment of our natural resources; an encounter that may have been off limits prior to this experience.
Thus, expanding the availability of the recreational use of open waters in an inclusive, supportive and ongoing continuum that will benefit people with dis-abilities; therefore, benefiting people of all abilities to safely participate in paddling activities and promote awareness and stewardship of our natural resources.
Going forward, the effectiveness and impact is immeasurable. This project will expand the lifelong effect that comes with being given the opportunity to safely paddle on open water; where one is focused on the tasks at hand, in awe of the improving flexibility and coordination, independence, the renewed resilience, the surrounding beauty, new relationships, the realization and resolve that you still matter and perhaps, smiled again. As opposed to the PTSD, or the depression, the missing limbs, or the life changes that are now before you.
Team River Runner provides the equipment and instruction without charge to active military, veterans, first-responders, community members and volunteers with a dis-ability. For more information on a local chapter closest to you please contact: Team River Runner-Lehigh Valley http://www.Facebook.com/TRRLehighValleyPA . Or, - Team River Runner-Southeast, PA Website: http://TRRSoutheastPA.org , and on Facebook at: http://www.Facebook.com/TRRSoutheastPA . Team River Runner-Lehigh Valley PA and Team River Runner- Southeast PA are chapters of Team River Runner USA, http://www.TeamRiverRunner.org . Serving our nation on the river to recovery since 2004, TRR is a national, non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization which promotes health and healing through Paddlesports for dis-abled veterans and civilians with a Guide Star Platinum and Great Non-Profits Top Rating CFC #36703.
As part of the larger effort to increase accessible recreation opportunities in parks across Pennsylvania, an accessible Board Safe Dock System is now under contract for late spring 2018, on Nockamixon Lake. For more information on how you can be a part of this great Friends of Nockamixon State Park project, please go to: www.friendsofnockamixonstatepark.org .
Through the lens of wholeness and possibilities, privately funded ADA accessible launch docks have now been installed in Penna. at Beltsville State Park and Leaser Lake Accessible Recreation Area, Kempton, Penna. to make it easier and safer to launch kayaks and canoes for those with dis-abilities. Add in the organizations and volunteers with the adaptive paddling skills and knowledge, a grant from the Lower Delaware Wild & Scenic River Management Council, the National Park Service and others… all giving many more people the freedom that most of us take for granted.
~ C C Hopf, Bucks County resident, TRR volunteer and grateful adaptive paddler