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  • Meg McCall

6 Take Aways from an Adaptive Kayaking Experience

This is the final post in a seven part series describing the Juballa family's experience in getting a fully adapted kayak for their young adult son, Raymond. Go to the end of this post to see other articles in the series.

Over the course of eight months of working together, the Juballas and we at Angle Oar gleaned some important takeaways from the experience. We think this information may be helpful to other individuals, families and programs who are embarking on their own efforts to fully adapt a kayak.

1. It's Worth it!

They say a picture is worth a thousands words, well here you go!

Kayaking with a Spinal Cord Injury
Raymond (far right) on a group paddle a few weeks later!

2. Get the Right Advice.

There’s a lot riding on your adaptive equipment choices, both from a safety and risk standpoint and financially. Be sure to ask around, relying on multiple perspectives. Check out blogs, videos and social channels to see what others are doing.

3. Make Substitutions.

You might not get all the funding you need or perhaps a piece of equipment isn’t readily available. Know that there are often alternatives available. For example, if you don’t have access to a patient lift, you can use a homemade transfer bench.

4. Stay Organized.

Not every paddler will need as much equipment as Raymond, but for those who do, there are a lot of moving parts. Whether it’s outfitting the kayak, transporting all of the equipment, or assisting the paddler into the kayak, it helps to be organized. Consider having a checklist of all needed items, a set of steps to follow each time, a binder of installation instructions, and a place to store every piece when not in use.

5. Do a Dry Run. (Pun intended!)

Install your equipment and simply sit in the kayak. Does everything work as expected? If it does, practice kayaking in a controlled environment, such as a pool or shallow pond, with others nearby to ensure your safety. Practice a wet exit so you know what to expect if you tip over and whether you are able to get back in on your own or with assistance.

6. It Can Be Expensive. Plan Ahead.

A fully-equipped kayak, along with related transportation equipment, costs upwards of $5,000 or more. If you’re going to apply for grants, do research to find out who supports what items and what their funding timeline is. See our grants blog for idea and check out our adaptive equipment calculator to estimate costs.

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Key Learnings (you are here)


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