British Columbia

Adapted paddleboarding comes to Vancouver

A Vancouver-based group that offers adapted sports for people with disabilities is offering a new activity to its roster this summer: stand-up paddleboarding.

Adapted paddleboards, called Onit Ability Boards, allow people with disabilities to strap in their wheelchair

Crystal Carroll goes out around False Creek on an adapted paddleboard with a volunteer. (Dillon Hodgin/CBC)

A Vancouver-based group that offers adapted sports for people with disabilities is offering a new activity to its roster this summer: stand-up paddleboarding. 

The Sam Sullivan Disability Foundation and the B.C. Mobility Opportunities Society are offering the program, which started last week, until August 28 at the new paddling facility near Science World.

"We're thinking that if you've got the ability to hold a paddle in your hands, it's all good," said SSDF program manager Stephen Hunter. 

"It's kind of a learning experience for us in terms of how we can accommodate and who we can accommodate."

Offering opportunities

The adapted paddleboards, called Onit Ability Boards, allow participants to strap in their wheelchair on the main board, with two pontoons for extra mobility and has enough room for a volunteer to accompany participants on the water. 

Sam Sullivan Disability Foundation program manager Stephen Hunter says the popularity of paddleboarding made it a natural addition to his organization's roster of adapted sports. (Dillon Hodgin/CBC)

Hunter said the growing popularity of paddleboarding is what made the SSDF add the activity to its menu of adapted sports, which includes kayaking, hiking and ultralight flying. 

"We're trying to be totally inclusive in our society," he said. "So why not be able to offer the same opportunity for people with a disability?"

Participants and volunteers wanted

Participant Crystal Carroll braved the rain on Wednesday afternoon to go out on one of the adapted boards.

"It absolutely means the world to me. I'm a water baby and I love being out on the water," Carroll said. 

When asked about her favourite part of the program, she said, "just being out on the water, being free."

Volunteer Eugenie Jacobsen says she has always enjoyed being out on the water. (Dillon Hodgin/CBC)

Carroll was paddling with Eugenie Jacobsen, a BCMOS volunteer. 

"I just really wanted to be a part of something that's very inclusive," Jacobsen said. "It does allow everyone to get out on the water."

She said the BCMOS is always looking for volunteers, especially as it continues to advertise its new program to attract more participants.