On June 3-5th 2016 ten ACA Adaptive Paddling Endorsement candidates representing organizations across New York State, New Jersey, Ohio, Maine and Virginia came together in Western New York to learn best practices for working with people with physical disabilities in paddlesports.
Southern Tier Stand Up Paddle Corp, Binghamton University, LLBean, Stride, Fairfax County Park Authority, City of Light Fitness, Island Paddlers, Buffalo Riverkeepers, Heritage Christina Services, YPRC club, Breakaway Excursions and Seabirds International were represented. The camaraderie amongst the candidates was apparent throughout the course as new friendships and partnerships were formed.
The APW was funded through a variety of sources to make the workshop more financially accessible to the candidates. Joe Moore of Adaptive Expeditions, http://adaptiveexpeditions.org, was the lead instructor for the course and shared that ‘this was likely the lowest cost APW in history of the ACA’. Each candidate paid only $150 towards the course costs.
Donations were received from the 2015 Paddlefest in Buffalo, NY, (http://buffalopaddlefestival.itsyourrace.com/event.aspx?id=3049), Eric Hahn and the Blue Sky Grant. In addition the Cattaraugus Community Center in Irving, NY donated classroom, workshop and pool time as match funding. We are grateful for their support.
In exchange, newly endorsed ACA instructors are expected to deliver at least two adaptive paddling classes or excursions over then next year. As we strive to develop the paddling community in Western NY State, working in partnership with these committed instructors is essential.
We are fortunate in this part of the planet to have access to many places to paddle. There are historic waterways, beautiful rivers and a couple of great lakes to enjoy. Physical access is being improved as the waterways develop here so that paddlers can safely access the water. With over 350,000 physically disabled people in Western New York and the growing paddlesport community here in Western New York the need for accessible opportunities is apparent.
Steve Spitz of the Western New York Adaptive Water Sports, http://wnyadaptivewatersports.org/wp/, is developing a paddling program for their members.
“The diverse resources and skill sets that came together in this APW was unique. Upstate New York presents excellent potential to become a hub for all types of adaptive paddling.” Joe Moore
Luther Vic expressed thanks as ‘the candidates I worked with made me feel extremely comfortable and at ease as they didn’t treat me differently ’. The feedback from the volunteers is key as we grow our skills as instructors and coaches.
During the evaluation Marty Grew shared that ‘Good things happen when we try’.
Others commented that ‘the course started me thinking’, ‘I overcame my fear of kayaking’, ‘flexible and patient instructors’, ‘wonderful venue’, and ‘hands on learning- I was in my glory!’
Thanks to everyone who made this course possible and especially to the participants and volunteers who gave up their time to join us for the first Adaptive Paddling Workshop in the beautiful and inspiring Buffalo Niagara region. We are making a difference in Western New York by working together to share our passion for this growing discipline.