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Adaptive Kayaking

March is National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and Brooklyn Kayak Company wants to contribute in making kayaking inclusive and accessible to all paddlers.

In 1987, President Ronald Reagan designated this month for awareness of the developmental disabilities experienced by over six million Americans. This campaign seeks to raise knowledge about “including people with developmental disabilities in all facets of community life.” So how can kayaking play a role in National Developmental Disabilities Awareness? Well, adaptive kayaking, of course.

Brooklyn Kayak Company is passionate about getting everyone out on the water –  no matter the limitations. We take seriously the desire of this month to help people understand the “difficulties that people with disabilities can face in fitting into the communities in which they live” and finding ways to help overcome some of those disabilities.

Adaptive kayaking/paddling is one way to make this activity more accessible to all. “Adaptive Kayaking For Persons with Physical Disabilities” in the American Journal of Recreation Therapy cites the benefits of kayaking as increased self esteem, increased upper body strength, learned adjustment to new situations, increased independence, and many more.

Kayak Modifications for Adaptive Kayaking

Adaptive kayaking refers to any number of modifications - simple to complex - made to regular equipment to help those with disabilities. It might be as simple as DIY changes or as complex as  out-riggers/seats/equipment to compensate for limitations.

For example, a simple strip of tape can be added to a paddle handle to help guide a blind paddler to the correct hand grip. A more complex adaptation might include outriggers added to kayaks for stability for paraplegic kayakers.  For those with health conditions (asthma, arthritis), injuries (torn rotator cuff), or general weakness, poor mobility, or coordination, traditional kayak and paddle equipment might be just fine but with adjustments to weight/material.

Getting Started:

Check out Brooklyn Kayak Company’s large selection of sturdy, high quality kayaks to start you on your adaptive kayaking journey.

  • Ultra-stable
  • Sit-in
  • Sit-on-top
  • Tandem (for going with another paddler)

It probably goes without saying that you should select a sturdy, good quality kayak for paddlers living with disabilities. So, look no further than Brooklyn Kayak Company when you want a great base to start with. From sit-on to sit-in to tandem, we have you covered.

If using a sit-inside yak, it is important to have a large cockpit to accommodate limited mobility. It should be around 10ft in length (shorter can have poor tracking, longer can be unwieldy) and handle at least a 175 lb. paddler.

A sit-on-top is also an excellent choice for adaptive kayaking as it is easier for those with limited mobility; however, there is a trade off in lack of trunk support.  Another popular option would be a tandem kayak, especially for those with no or limited experience.

Building your Adaptive Kayaking Experience

In addition, Brooklyn Kayak Company offers kayaks / equipment that can aid your journey to adaptive paddling:

  • Lightweight paddles
  • Seat systems
  • Kayak carts

Getting a lightweight or ultra-light weight kayak paddle might just be the exact modification that some paddlers need. Even choosing the right seat can make a big difference for those looking to spend time out on the water. Get one with extra support and stability to aid the developmentally disabled paddler. A kayak cart is also a handy adaptation for those with (or even without) developmental disabilities.

You can continue to trick out your Brooklyn Kayak Company yak with more modifications.

Common Adaptations:

  • Stabilizing Floats (Outriggers)
  • Hand & Wrist aids
  • Braces/Anchor points
  • Foam padding/supports
  • Transfer devices

Let’s safely and creatively conquer limitations and make kayaking accessible for all.

Embrace the great outdoors. Embrace adaptive kayaking.

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