Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Supporting Adaptive Kayaking in the Berkshires

Guest Post from Emily Piccirilli, our Universal Access Program summer clerk, who offers a her unique perspective on helping with our adaptive kayak program from shore. Emily paddled with the program for the first time this week. Thanks Emily for all you do, which is much more than "simply registering participants")!

I can’t think of a better way to spend a Monday afternoon than kayaking out in the summer air. The Adaptive Kayaking program at the D.A.R. State Forest in Goshen MA, at the eastern edge of the Berkshires, is lead by Brenda Kennedy-Davies of Stavros Outdoor Access. It is a fun way to get out on the water with support if you need it. Brenda, an occupational therapist, and her staff are all avid kayakers and have a wealth of knowledge about outdoor recreation and safety on the water. A trained lifeguard is also present. At 5 dollars per person the program is affordable!

The park is beautiful and filled with many recreational options. With easy access to accessible trails and a swimming beach close by, many participants sit at picnic tables and have lunch before or after their kayak session. Whether you are arriving early or staying later, swimming at the beach is a fun way of cooling off after kayaking on a hot day.

In my three years of helping with registration at this program I have met a variety of different and wonderful people. I have made many new friends and learned a lot about outdoor recreation. The program is open to all - from beginners getting into a kayak for the first time to those who have been kayaking for years. The excitement of the participants fills the air as they launched onto the water. Across the lake I hear fun-filled laughter as they play water games like basketball or tag by tossing a rubber chicken into boats. Blueberries growing along the water’s edge can be picked by hungry kayakers who drift by.

I love this time of the year, when I can get out of the office and join in the group effort to help those with disabilities do what some think they will never be able to do. The joy on their faces as they discover that they can do it is the greatest reward. I take it all in and watch from the water’s edge as Brenda and her staff kayak out across Highland Lake with participants, some of whom may struggle to get around on land, yet glide effortlessly on water. I could not have said it better than when Allan Butson came up to me after he and his son Brandon went out kayaking for the first time and said “this organization and everyone here is wonderful.” He couldn’t be more right about the devoted group of people who work so hard to make these programs happen. Although my job is simply to register participants, I am proud to say that I, in my small way, was able to help make someone’s dreams come true.


Adaptive Kayaking programs at D.A.R. State Forest are held on Mondays: July 30 and August 6 with Outdoor Access. Call Brenda at 413-259-0009 to pre register! Also, if Monday’s don’t fit into your schedule kayaking at D.A.R. State Forest is offered by All Out Adventures on Wednesdays: July 18 and 25 and August 1, 8 and 15. Call 413-527-8980 to pre register!

1 comment:

Maheen said...

I'm very much looking forward to being out there next couple of months and helping out with this program.