Local church sponsors kayaking event for special needs community
Combs is the director and co-founder of Waypoint Adventure, an organization based in Lexington, Massachusetts that designs outdoor programs that cater to youths and adults with disabilities that help provide life and leadership skills. Combs’ wife is from Darien and grew up attending Reesor’s church. The two men met when Combs visited his wife’s family who is still in the area.
Eventually, five or six years after meeting, Reesor and Combs decided to put together a collaborative event between the church and Waypoint.
“We said ‘Hey, why don't we pick a day and we’ll bring a bunch of kayaks down and see if we can get more people,” Combs said.
On July 8, the Waypoint crew will be coming down to Weed Beach for an adaptive kayaking event. The group will have adaptive equipment and specially trained staff to accommodate participants with physical or cognitive disabilities for a hour and a half long kayaking session meant to boost the confidence of those involved.
“It may be as simple as ‘I learned I like kayaking,” Combs said. “Maybe they find a place to start kayaking on a more regular basis. Maybe they learned a kayaking skill. Maybe...they learned they were nervous when they started, but pushed through the fear and are beginning to learn the skill of doing things that are hard. When you think of learning like that as moving toward independent life, it’s big learning. That’s really Waypoint’s mission.”
During the duration of the program, participants will learn basic kayaking skills, like moving the boat, making it turn and how to put on a life jacket. The Waypoint staff is trained in special education and has different communication strategies to give the instructions to people of all abilities. They also are trained in adaptive paddling and have equipment to accommodate people with physical disabilities, like a wheelchair seat or balance mechanisms to help people hold the paddles.
For Reesor, who has two daughters with special needs, partnering with Waypoint was especially important as a way to reach out to the special needs community.
“For a lot of these folks, they probably never kayaked before,” he said. “You’ve got issues of overcoming fears and pushing through barriers and those kinds of things. Waypoint is one of our partners so they are an organization we invest in and work with because of the values they add to the communities. As a dad with two special needs daughters, this is a community that is often very underserved. It’s a great outdoor adventure in a safe environment. It’s a great way for us to say to special needs community ‘We know you're here and understand the challenges.”
This will be the Christ Community Church’s first organized event to connect with the special needs community, but Reesor said the church has been making connections in town and are hoping this event will be the first of many of its kind, adding the church already makes it a point to host children’s activities to address all its participants’ needs.
“I think we are a church that not only wants to respond to people's spiritual needs, but we also want to serve their sensible needs as well,” he said. “When you look at the children's activities we offer, these are all ways we can administer practical ways of love and compassion of God to the community. there's a desire to not just provide spiritual value, but physical value as well.”
Waypoint Adaptive Kayaking Day, Saturday, July 8th at Weed Beach, 1 Brush Island Road in Darien.
Time slots available: 10 a.m. to noon, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Waypoint Adventure challenges people with disabilities to discover their purpose, talents and strengths through the transforming power of adventure. The Waypoint Adventure kayaking program will give you and your group access to some of New England's most beautiful lakes, rivers and coastline. Enjoy the fun and serenity of the water while being part of a supportive community. You will benefit from a wide array of adaptive kayaking equipment designed to meet your individual needs and offers special equipment and instruction for those with special needs.
Registration fee is $20 per person. To register or for more information, call 781-325-7980 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Program made possible in part by Christ Community Church in Darien (http://www.christcommunityct.org/)