Adaptive Kayaking for special-needs kids at APS

More and more, I've been asked to teach classes to different special needs programs; particularly The Autism Programs at UNM's Center for Development and Disability.   They've become huge supporters and it is without question one of the neatest things I've ever been a part of. 

Today I worked with Doris M's adaptive PE elementary class at West Mesa Aquatic Center.  She had about seven students in class. At the end of class, every student asked when they could kayak again!  Unfortunately, because there is no formal agreement with APS, I could not give them an honest answer.

After they changed back into street clothes, they came back to the boats and asked how they could help.  I would never ask such young people to help, only that they have fun and stay safe.  They insisted.  I asked that they clean the boats with the sponges (we used those to play 'Sponge-Bob Tag'), and they readily chipped in.  They practically begged to help more.  So I asked that they stow the life-jackets and gear away.  They wanted more.  So I asked that they help each other carry the boats to the trailer.  Some insisted that they carry their own boat, just to prove to themselves that they could. Then an interesting competition began; They each tried to carry a larger and larger boat, just to prove they could (recognizing this trend, I quickly grabbed the largest boats, so no one tried to do too much).  Their feelings of success, accomplishment, inclusion and problem-solving went well beyond the 1hr pool class...and I'm certain it lasted them the rest of the day.

There are subtle messages here that I can hardly put into writing;  It was obvious that they had fun, and wanted more.  But to them, carrying the boats to the trailer ("work" to some) was also fun. How many young people enjoy "working"?  Indirectly, they paid a price ('work') and got something in return (fun in the boats).  Again I ask, how many young people understand this simple give-and-take concept?  Not many, in my experience.  Since parents were not there to dictate, or lead passively by example, I can only say this came from within the children themselves. Every child did their fair share of 'work' though non were asked or told to.  I find this unbelievably amazing!

It's hard to describe what I witnessed today, but it was something I want to be a part of, to give new opportunity (and 'ability') to those who are described as 'disabled'.  Whatever their needs may have been, I'm certain they were not aware of it today.

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Upcoming Kayak Instruction Classes

Currently there are no Intro to Kayaking clinics scheduled. Please see our Calendar of Events for upcoming Intro, Roll, Whitewater and Touring clinics, or Contact Us for a private lesson.
Currently there are no Kayak Roll clinics scheduled. Please see our Calendar of Events for upcoming Intro, Roll, Whitewater and Touring clinics, or Contact Us for a private lesson.
Title Date City Name
(Level 3) Whitewater Kayaking Made Easy Saturday, September 30, 2017 - 9:00am - Sunday, October 1, 2017 - 5:00pm Pilar Pilar Yacht Club
Currently there are no Advanced Whitewater clinics scheduled. Please see our Calendar of Events for upcoming Intro, Roll, Whitewater and Touring clinics, or Contact Us for a private lesson.
Title Date City Name
"Open House" Kayak & SUP Fun, Games and Practice Wednesday, September 27, 2017 - 5:30pm - 7:30pm Bernalillo Sandia Lakes Recreation Area