The sounds of clapping, cheering and laughter filled the Natatorium inside the Student Union at Wright State University. Almost a dozen participants and volunteers attended a kayak training session to better prepare them on the open water.
Wright State University has partnered with Adaptive Sports Connection and The American Canoe Association since 2006 to offer training to Miami Valley residents, including people with disabilities.
“I couldn’t do it without them,” said Mark Pierson, a participant who studied at Wright State in the late 1970s. Pierson uses a wheelchair and needs assistance from several volunteers to enter a kayak.
“It frees Mark up from his wheelchair,” said Dene Berman, a graduate assistant with the Outdoor Resource Center at Wright State. “He becomes as mobile on the water as anybody else.”
Volunteers say that kayaking is not only good for participants with limited mobility but is also great exercise for people with autism. Many people with autism have challenges with balance and coordination and kayaking helps you gain those skills.