Games Offer Grand Stage

Published Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The BC Disability Games is a celebration of potential. There is the potential for new athletes to excel in a setting larger than their local clubs; the potential for experienced athletes to break their own records; the potential for people to be drawn into the world of adaptive sports; and the potential for new sports to be experienced and embraced.

During the 2007 BC Disability Games in Powell River the Power to Be Adventure Therapy Society presented kayaking as an exhibition sport. Kayaking was well received and there were large waiting lists of athletes wanting to try the sport.

Carinna Kenigsberg, the Adaptive Recreation Program Coordinator for Power To Be Adventure Therapy Society in Victoria, says that kayaking is a sport that “can suit the needs of almost anybody”. She explains that “based on an individual’s needs and abilities we have more stable kayaks with pontoons, paddles with mobility devices such as an innertube to hold people’s hands or gloves that velcro hands to the paddle.” At Power to Be they work with each individual to assess what adaptive equipment is needed. Carrina states that they always keep in mind “the three principles of kayaking: mobility, comfort, and stability.”

Power to Be was proud to be part of the BC DIsability Games because regardless of age, ability, or experience level any person who tries kayaking quickly learns that they have the potential to become hooked for life.

Vaughn Stacey, an eight year old who has high functioning autism, tried kayaking for the first time this year at Thetis Lake in Victoria as part of Power to Be’s summer recreation program. Vaughn said that kayaking was “cool” and Carrina elaborated that “he wanted to go twice he was so excited about it.” The second time Vaughn went he talked his mum into joining him. Carrina says that Vaughn “has great skill for kayaking, not just as someone who enjoys it, but as someone who has real potential to become a good kayaker.”

For Vaughn kayaking is “very sensory pleasing, there’s not a lot of sound. Vaughn in particular gets a little over stimulated with noise and heat, and out there it’s nice because you can just splash water when you’re hot and there isn’t the sounds of people or noise.”

Sandy Richards, one of the volunteers that works with Vaughn in the summer program, started out as Power to Be’s first client in their Adaptive Recreation Program. Fourteen years ago Sandy, an extremely active individual who loved sports, had his life changed forever when he was hit by a drunk driver. After six months in a comma Sandy awoke to learn that he had a brain injury and that his mobility had been severely impacted.

Sandy never lost his love for outdoor activities but after the accident he didn’t think he would be able to participate in them again. “The brain injury really affected my life. We were really concerned with me doing things on my own and I wasn’t walking very much” but then he learned about the Adaptive Recreation Program and “Power to Be came along and allowed me to go out and experience things and I was supervised which opened up a whole bunch of activities for me.” Power to Be has a wide range of activities which include rock climbing, kayaking, hiking, and gardening.

Through Power to Be and kayaking Sandy realized he still had the potential to enjoy sports. He also learned that he can help others realize their potential by being a volunteer and getting them involved in adaptive recreation. Sandy smiles as he says “kayaking is a beautiful thing.”