During a recent Kayak Orientation for Victoria School at MOE-JBAC, I came across 3 students who were physically disabled. The first had a problem with his lumbar, which made him paralysed from the waist down. The second boy had muscular distrophy and was in a motorized wheelchair.
Obviously the boy with muscular distrophy could not kayak, so that settled it. I was apprehensive about the other boy paddling at first, but after finding out that he was a swimmer, myself and the other instructor allowed him to paddle with his father.
Now, I mentioned there 3 students didn't I?
See, the teachers were paying so much attention to these 2 boys that they neglected to tell the instructors there was another boy with a physical disability.
And I had to find out in the most embarrassing way.
During the buoyancy test which saw the boys holding hands in a circle and floating. I asked a boy why he wasn't holding hands with the person next to him.
What's wrong with this one might ask? Well, the boy did not have a left arm.
We all know kayaking involves paddling with BOTH arms. So, I paired him up with a student leader and told him if he wanted to, he could paddle on just one side while the student leader did the steering.
Overall, I've had an interesting experience so far in my coaching career. From simple stuff like handling over 60 paddlers, to having to dealing with participants who couldn't get their 1 star due to bad weather and now, dealing with the physically handicapped.
When people said you meet different groups of people while coaching, I certainly didn't expect this!