Great work by Castlebar Urban Adventure Hub in providing opportunities for all to participate in Adventure Sports. Thanks to Jarlath McHale @mayoadventureexperience for introducing me to the team from Castlebar Urban Adventure Hub and getting me on the water for my first taste of kayaking last Monday at the Leisure Complex Lough Lannagh.
I had discussed my balance predicament with Stephen Hannon, GMIT the week prior. I explained due to my spinal cord injury I was paralyzed from above my chest with a lack of balance being a major issue for me.
With this information Stephen went away and sourced a seat with support for me. The seat is designed for universal use but addressed my need for lateral support. A high backed padded support with front and rear adjustment, and integral padded seat, ideal with Frolic or Cayman models or as a generic backrest to fit most other sit on tops.
Due to lack of gripping power in my hands, i secured my paddle using gloves purchased from activehands.com. These gloves are fastened with velcro once in place.
We placed my gel cushion inside the kayak to sit on for pressure relief and placed a plastic bag around it as to not get it wet.
Transferring to the boat was challenging as my usual slide board method was not an option due to height differences in the chair and kayak. We tackled it with a safe manual lift into the kayak and further to that into the water.
On the issue of stability for the first session we decided to have that the kayak constantly supported with two people to start with. There are commercial devices available to help stabilise the boats and these could work well on the larger outdoor sea kayaks.
What started out as a team of four and alot of floats and padding around me in the kayak; resulted with myself freely paddling around the pool myself with minimal padding after twenty minutes.
What a really great upper body workout today not to mention such a great feeling to be able to self propel around the shallow pool and hopefully we can build on this and get out on the lake in a kayak in the near future!! .With disability and adventure sports representation is still woefully inadequate and just as we are no less competent, our thirst for the great outdoors is no less deserving than that of our fully functioning peers. Just representation is needed in all fascades of life to change the public’s idea of what it means to be talented, hardworking, determined and have a disability also.
Moreover, visibility influences feelings and if disabled people are only portrayed as weak and sickly or not seen to partake in Adventure sports at all it becomes difficult for a viewer to see them in a positive light. They are often stigmatized or stereotyped, and may appear as either objects of pity who wish to constantly sit on the side line!
Well done once again to Castlebar Urban Adventure Hub in providing opportunities for all to participate in Adventure Sports.