The regional Victorian Canoe Club is working to make watersports accessible to all

On the shores of Lake Mulwala, a new program opens the waters to all.

“No matter what your skill level, if you want to get on the water, we want to make it happen,” said Tim Roadley, Yarrawonga Mulwala Canoe Club Instructor.

The club was selected by Paddle Victoria to run its adaptive pilot program to empower people of all abilities to take up the water sport.

A boy and a girl are riding in a canoe
The canoe club on the NSW-Victoria border wants to be more inclusive.(Delivered: Tim Roadley)

This is a longtime dream of many members.

“We have a history as an inclusive paddle club,” Mr Roadley said.

“Each adaptive paddler has their own issues and the Club and Paddle Vic will work together to find a solution for each case.”

Adaptive trials program for regional clubs

Several members of this New South Wales-Victoria border club are all-skills.

In fact, a young member, Natalia-Drew Cole, recently won gold and silver at the Paddle Australia Canoe National Championships in the Para class.

Mr Roadley said this is why Paddle Victoria have approached the club to test their adaptive program next season.

As part of the pilot, Paddle Victoria recently traveled to the region to train local clubs on how to run inclusive paddling programs.

Two people launch a canoe at a boat ramp while two other people look on
Paddle Victoria recently traveled to Yarrawonga-Mulwala to train local clubs on how to run inclusive paddling programmes.(Included: Facebook)

The club also hosted an open session for the public with service providers attending to get a sneak peek at what the club has to offer next season.

“We offer this opportunity”

Among the attendees was a young boy with cerebral palsy from Wodonga who traveled an hour to see what the club was about.

Mr Roadley said the boy recently had an inspirational encounter with Paralympic canoeist and gold medalist Curtis McGrath.

“That was one of the reasons he came down – he had met [Curtis McGrath] and said, ‘Oh, I want to do that,'” said Mr. Roadley.

A small group paddles on a lake
Canoeists of all skill levels enjoy a day paddling across Lake Mulwala.(Delivered: Tim Roadley)

The boy didn’t have control of his left side but the club quickly worked on a solution.

Tools supplied by Paddle Victoria included boat pontoons, a transportable kayak launcher and twin kayaks with single and double paddlers.

“The team was able to paddle a double sit-on-top kayak for over half an hour with the help of junior member Zoe Schweda,” said Mr. Roadley.

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