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6 Adaptive Water Sports to Try this Summer - Cure Medical

cure nation logoCURE NATION: Warmer temperatures will be here before we know it, and it’s never too early to be thinking about picking up a new hobby that will keep you active, while getting you out in nature! To help, we put a list together of six adaptive water sports for you to consider. Which ones will you try next?

All of the pictures below are courtesy of the annual Wheels UP! travel contest hosted by SPORTS ‘N SPOKES magazine, the Abilities Expo and Cure Medical.  In the cover image for this article, Joshua Beerbower is doing adaptive water skiing at summer camp. He is a full time wheelchair user with spina bifida and cerebral palsy.

Stay tuned for our next travel event coming your way this summer!

1. get out of your comfort zone with Kayaking

Adaptive kayaking is a fantastic way to get out of your comfort zone, get some exercise and explore nature in an exciting new way. There are a variety of boats available for kayaking, so it’s important to find someone that is knowledgable to help you find the vessel that will work best for your level of ability, upper body strength, balance, etc. You’ll want to start out on calm water and work your way up to the rapids!

It can feel really good to ditch your chair on the shore and paddle down a river or along a beautiful shoreline.

woman paddling kayak with wheelchair in the foreground

From the Wheels Up! photo contest, Katelyn Scarlett Hunter says, “I am kayaking for the first time. This is on a lake near my home. I never thought I could until a friend guided me through it. It was difficult yet I did it!”

If kayaking sounds like an adventure you’d like to tackle, try reaching out to a local paddling club or adaptive sports organization to get started!

More than 50 Disabled Sports USA chapters offer kayaking and Team River Runner, a chapter of Disabled Sports USA, has 51 programs in 30 states that provide a variety of kayaking opportunities for military members with physical disabilitiesAlso, check out the national Adaptive Paddling Program and the Paralympic Club Directory.

2. Explore Adaptive SUP (Standup Paddling)

If you haven’t seen someone doing adaptive SUP, it’s quite a sight! A wheelchair user actually rolls right onto a paddle board, locks down the chair and off they go, out onto the water. There are a few different methods of the this up and coming hobby, including a stable board for beginners.

a woman in a wheelchair on a paddle board

From the Wheels Up! photo contest: Codi Darnell trying out an adapted SUP in Palm Springs, CA.

The Stoke For Life Foundation explains, “The Onit Ability Board is a paddle board system which comes with an all-terrain wheelchair that locks onto the board, it comes with out-riggers for stability and a ramp for loading and unloading. This is a great system for all levels of disabilities; it’s very safe and a lot of fun for everyone.”

There are more advanced systems, too, so you’ve got room to hone your skills. To get involved, try reaching out to your local paddle board shop. Some may have an adaptive SUP program, like Nalu Adaptive in Ohio.

3. Surf Your Local Lake with Sit Skiing

When it comes to adaptive water sports, sit skiing has been around a while. According to USA Adaptive Water Ski and Wake Sports, the first sit ski was developed in the U.S. by Royce Andes in 1983, and in 1986, the first recorded International Invitational Disabled Water Ski Tournament was held in Norway.

man on sit ski having fun

From the 2018 Wheels Up! photo contest: Brian Rowland (T12-L1 complete SCI) para-wakesurfing on the Rideau river

From Disabled Sports USA, “A sit ski is designed to have a seat or cage fastened to the top so that the skier can remain in the seated  position. Some sit skis include a starting block, which is a cleat that holds the rope for those with grip issues. Sit skis come in three levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced.”

Today, sit skiing is so common that it’s pretty easy to find a local program where you can try out the sport. To get out on the water, check out these adaptive water skiing resources near you.

4. Troll the Shores with Adapted Fishing

This next popular pastime doesn’t need a lot of introduction… Who’s up for a fishing trip?! People have been fishing for food – and later for fun – since humans have been around water. It’s great for people who roll, because you can park right on the shore and cast a line in. There are all sorts of assistive devices that make fishing accessible for people with limited hand dexterity, too.

kid in wheelchair and friends fishing

From the 2018 Wheels Up! photo contest: Wendy Redmond says, “Our son Dylan and his twin sister out fishing for the very first time! Didn’t catch anything but they still had a blast!”

Ready to cast a line? Fishing Has No Boundaries, Inc. (FHNB) is a non-profit 501-C3 organization “whose goal is to open up the great outdoors for people with disabilities through the world of fishing. FHNB has grown into a National Organization with 27 chapters in 13 states, enabling thousands of individuals with disabilities to participate fully in this spirit-lifting, morale-boosting, trouble-free recreational activity.”

5. Embrace the Summer Breeze with Adaptive Windsurfing

According to AccessSportsAmerica.com, “Since 1983, Ross Lilley has been recognized as a pioneer in the field of adaptive windsurfing – the first to adapt the sport of windsurfing in the United States prior to the founding of AccesSport.”

“Today, we use a wide variety of single hull, catamaran and tri-maran windsurfers to establish comfort for athletes to windsurf within minutes. Most recently, we developed a technique of using stand-up paddle boards alongside single or tandem windsurfers. A trainer on a stand-up paddle board helps to hold up the windsurf sail and the athletes maintain balance. This innovation has led to more independent windsurfing.”

adaptive windsurfing

From the 2018 Wheels Up! photo contest: “My son Delmace having an adaptive windsurfing lesson.”

6. Oceans Away! Adaptive Board Surfing

Surf’s up, dude! For all the rollers ready to shred some waves, here’s what the International Surfing Association (ISA) has to say, “In line with our mission to develop the sport of Surfing in all of its forms across the globe, the ISA has taken an active role in the development and advancement of Adaptive Surfing to create a global platform for universal access to the sport and enable Adaptive Surfers the opportunity to achieve sporting excellence and inspire others.”

If you’re looking to connect with your local adaptive surfing community, check out this group.

a woman happy doing adaptive surfing

Photo from the 2018 Wheels Up! photo contest

Plan your next adventure with the Wheels UP! accessible travel guide

Download the Wheels Up! Accessible U.S. Travel Guide! In this book, you’ll discover a state-by-state directory of accessible travel destinations across the United States (including some adaptive water sports) as well as pictures and perspectives from people who are exploring their world on wheels.

These accessible travel suggestions are part of the Wheels UP! Accessible US Travel Guide program (Formerly the Get Out and Enjoy Life (GOEL) program) that is a joint educational initiative between SPORTS ‘N SPOKES magazine, Abilities Expo and Cure Medical.

Each chapter of this book provides easily-accessible destinations that are fun and engaging for friends who use wheelchairs.Wheels Up! Accessible US Travel Guidebook

Download the Wheels Up! Accessible U.S. Travel Guide here.

Founded by a quadriplegic, Cure Medical is the only catheter manufacturer in the world that donates the first 10% of its net income to support research programs in pursuit of a cure for urinary retention, paralysis, spinal cord injury and central nervous system disorders.

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