WASP to offer adaptive kayak program 

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There has been a lot of interest in the program already, as the course is about 60 per cent sold out.

"For the first pilot course we wanted to go with people who have had their disability for a while, all paraplegics, so it was a narrow focus of aspects of disability that we would have to control," said Calver. "They’re all quite active and somewhat athletic, and most have been through our programs with skiing or are already accomplished skiers.

"We plan to take the lessons learned from this and next summer expand to include a kids program, possibly with more involved disabilities to see if we can accommodate them."

Calver has been on adaptive rafting trips, and once guided a group of paraplegics and quadriplegics on a 16 day rafting trip in Nepal. However, this is the first time he’ll have instructed a kayak course.

"The beauty of the thing is that it doesn’t take strength, kayaking is more of a finesse sport where you learn to use the water to your advantage," he said. "No matter how strong you are you can never out-power the river, it’s about using that energy to get to where you want to go. That’s the real challenging thing for paraplegics, the lack of sensation in the lower body – you need to feel subtle changes in the boat angle, and in the water when you move from place to place. It’s always changing, and you need to know when to make a turn, when to maneuver around or behind an obstacle.

"There’s a lot of challenge to it, no doubt about that. That’s where keeping a positive attitude comes into it."

WASP also has a few other events planned for this year.

This summer WASP will run a canoeing program for children with developmental disabilities every three weeks in association with Whistler Backroads, and will host kids from Canuck Place in Vancouver in August.

WASP is also starting a hand cycling program in conjunction with Access Sea to Sky, including the opportunity to do the Slow Food Cycle in Pemberton and a Loonie Race on the valley trail system on August 28.

As well, on July 26 WASP will be involved in a hiking day on Whistler Mountain using special trail riders that were created to help people with diseases like cerebral palsy and spinal cord injuries access the backcountry.

According to Walker, the programs were made available with the funding of the Community Foundation of Whistler and the ongoing assistance of the Resort Municipality of Whistler.

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