Teaching a special child to paddle.

-- Last Updated: Jun-19-07 10:02 PM EST --

The boy is 6 and has no use of his legs.He weighs about 60 lbs. He provides his own wheelchair propulsion every where he goes. Plays baseball, swims, and has a great 'can do' attitude.His dad thinks paddling would open a whole new world for him.Dad is not a paddler but will become one if his son likes it.
What kind of boat can we put him in to let him try kayaking?He drives that wheelchair solo and his dad thinks he would want to paddle the same way. This will be in calm shallow water with 2 of us with him .
I'm thinking a small rec boat, maybe a WS with the Phase 3 seat.

Its my limited understanding that SOT’s are often used in adaptive paddling since they’re easier to get in and out of. They can also be easier to adapt any necessary hardware to.

a Perception Swing might work nice for him

Well that solves the rudder vs skeg
debate. Some sort of SOT seems about right for a 6 year old… maybe something along the lines of a YakBoard?

Timely message.
I am a new member of this distinguished group, and your message is very interesting to me.

I am fortunate that I live close enough to a beautiful reservoir in Central Ohio (O’Shaunnessy Reservoir) that I get to paddle almost every evening. To get to the main body of the reservoir after I put in, I paddle past what I thought was a small sailboat yacht club. I have always noticed that there are about 30 kayaks on racks near a natural put-in area. Tonight, I found out who used all these kayaks.

As I was paddling toward the are I noticed all the kayaks were gone. When I got to the main body of the reservoir there was a group of paddlers receiving instructions and enjoying the beautiful evening. The paddlers appeared to range in age from 6(?) to 30. As I continued my paddle I later met one of the instructors of the group. Amanda told me that the students were members of T.A.S.K.(my old age didn’t allow me to remember what this stand for), which is a group that works with children and young adults who have no use of their legs. Kayaking is a major part of their program. She told me about the organization and I was enthralled at the good work they do. As a matter of fact, they asked me to attend their weekly on-the-water gatherings, and I am excited.

Anyway, all of the youngsters were in plastic rec boats from 10" to what looked to be approximately 12 ’ in length. Everyone appeared to be having a ball.

As I mentioned earlier, I am going to be with these folks starting next week. If you would like info on this organization, I will be happy to e-mail you with anything I can find out. I may be incorrect, butthey may be affiliated with the Columbus Ohio MetroParks.

Discovery Channel?
I watched a program on the Discovery Ch. about

umm, a month ago. It was about a river expidition. Class vi+ rapids!

Anyways one of the rescue and recone paddlers was parilized waist down,but was considered one of the best in the world…

Maybe some good inspiration for this young’un

Wish i could remember his name!!

Adventure bhutan…
That was the show!

Nothing too big
If possible I would avoid putting him in anything too big. Kids have a much lower center of gravity and don’t weigh much anyway.

It’s amazing how much kids can pick up intuitively. I once watched a friends 3 yr old granddaughter playing in my riot 007 and she was able to maneuver it in no time. Another time A friend had dragged out his old 1970’s touring kayak for his daughter to try who I think was about 7 at the time. She found it frustrating because it was hard for her to turn and she couldn’t correct it when it veered off line. We then put her in my dagger G-force 6.3 and she was much happier because she could make it go where she wanted.

So I would pick something with a fair amount of rocker or a flat bottom and pretty much as small as you can find. Also get a paddle matched to the kids size as this will make it much easier for him.

Just my random thoughts - Kelvin

Let him do it himself too …
I have some experience with seat outfitting ( used to make an adaptive seat ) for this situation too. Call me if you want.

Any nine foot wide rec boat
The Swifty would be perfect.

We have two Keowees (which were the first Swiftys, Sparkys, etc) and the grandchildren learn almost immediately how to paddle them.

At our recent Memorial day outing two four year olds were fighting the older kids for them.

They are just about impossible for a light weight child to tip over.

I think the young one would be more secure in a sit in rather than a sit on. We have both, and the grandkids seem to favor the sit in over the SOT.

The biggest thing is let him use the lightest weight paddle that you have, which will make things a little easier for him.



Perhaps a small-shaft paddle as well
so it will fit his hands better

Organizational Link…
Team River Runner uses Kayaks to help wounded vets.

Perhaps they can answer many of your questions…


Contact Us

If you are an OIF/OEF veteran and want to participate in the Team River Runner kayaking program, please contact: kayak@TeamRiverRunner.org

For general information please contact: info@TeamRiverRunner.org

For information about donations please contact: donate@TeamRiverRunner.org

For website problems or comments please contact: webmaster@TeamRiverRunner.org

Beam width
is important. My daughter is 7, and she can’t handle the rec boat we bought cheap at a yard sale for a kids’ playboat. She wants to take my kayak, which has a smaller beam by several inches, because it’s easier for her to manipulate a paddle over the narrower boat.

Small kids present such a low center of gravity in a kayak that the stability of any boat is positively affected when they are piloting it. My Perception’s nearly as stable as a raft when Anna’s in the cockpit.

From experience I use
a Pamlico. Have taken 14 handicapped children including MD on the Chattahoochee River. Close contact, wide cockpit, stable boat. I shortened a cheap no name light weight paddle. Have put a velcro band around their hand and the opposite piece around the paddle shaft to aide in holding the paddle. Talking and paddle splashing works best and pleases the MDs. For leg paralyzed I stuff PFDs in the bow so they can’t slide forward and have a brace for their feet even though they can’t use them they can shuffle better. Lock them in place using the footpegs. If you need more PFDs wrap them in a plastic bag and tape them so they don’t become an entaglement. This will also give them support Use small couch pillows on the sides with the paralized to keep then in the seat.

Good luck, These have been my most self rewarding days on the river

good for you string
What a great thing to do. Can you keep us posted on how it turns out?

Sure. I am a little uneasy dealing
with handicapped people, but I’ve met this young man and he has such a great attitude.His father has done a great job convincing him he can do anything.

String, you’ll do great
You deal with me just fine!

Small boats
If you could find one, a Cobra Wave would be a great SOT. Some of the other surf boats might work also. While they may be harder to get into, the idea of a ww boat with their tight fit is interesting. It would give him a lot more control. Look up Englehart Products in the boat buyers guide on this site.

Adaptive Information Resources

There was a lady w/o use of her legs
that paddled the Ozark Rendezvous. Sure she would have some useful info. Wilderness web would now who she is.

Also seems this was a topic some time back. Wasn’t there an organization of handicapped paddlers. They would be a wealth of knowledge.