April 2024 – Parks & Recreation - 15

Adaptive Kayaking: Fostering
Inclusion Outdoors
By Elena Christopher, CTRS, CPRP
H
(Camacho)
ave you ever wondered how we can move from just making outdoor
spaces " accessible " to truly making them " inclusive " ? As
park and recreation professionals, we understand the therapeutic
benefits of outdoor recreation. Unfortunately, outdoor spaces
have not always been welcoming to everyone. The ADA defines the minimum
standards for accessibility for park and recreation agencies, but inclusion is
about going beyond that to ensure everyone feels welcome and included in
these spaces. To bridge the gap, park and recreation professionals throughout
the United States are implementing innovative strategies for connecting the
disability community with outdoor health-promoting experiences.
The Camacho Activity
Center
(tinyurl.com/y8rrkae7)
in Austin, Texas, specializes in outdoor
recreation, nature education,
and inclusion and adaptive activities.
It aims to promote inclusivity in outdoor
recreation by offering adaptive
paddling, skill-building volunteerism
and nature immersion programs for
people of all ages with disabilities.
Camacho staff listen to the community,
build relationships, ensure the
center's equipment works for everyone
and hire professional staff dedicated
to inviting people in.
Community Engagement
Located in the Holly neighborhood
of downtown Austin, Camacho
serves a community that historically
has been excluded from outdoor
recreation. The 1928 Master Plan
(tinyurl.com/2jsev6hy) that divided
the city by race and redlining, along
with the Holly Street Power Plant
that operated from 1960 to 2007,
negatively impacted residents' health
and access to outdoor activities. To
promote healing and address historical
and structural inequalities,
Camacho recognizes the need to
make outdoor activities more inclusive
for people with disabilities.
Camacho was named after Lorraine
" Grandma " Camacho, who fought
for the closure of the Holly Street
Power Plant and worked tirelessly to
improve the health and quality of life
for her community. Thanks to community
input and advocacy (tinyurl.
com/3mvuywb6), Camacho staff
have expanded the paddling program
with a universally accessible boat
dock to include people with physical
disabilities in watercraft programs.
Building Relationships
Camacho staff collaborate with local
groups to identify gaps in programs
and services and work together to fill
them. They have collaborated with
Lone Star Paralysis and Spero Rehab,
among others, to provide adaptive
paddling for people with spinal
cord injuries.
Adaptive Equipment
Ryan Eaker, the supervisor at Camacho,
is committed to finding topquality
adaptive equipment to enAssisted
by staff from Camacho Activity
Center and Spero Rehab, a participant
launches their boat at an adaptive paddling
event at Camacho's boat dock.
sure comfortable, safe and highperformance
paddling. Recently, his
team added portable transfer benches
and wheels, making their entire
adaptive paddling operation mobile.
But Eaker's team knows that there is
no one-size-fits-all solution when it
comes to adaptive equipment.
Eaker says, " We have expanded
knowledge in a growing field of
adaptive equipment; what works,
what doesn't. Just like every person is
unique, so is the problem solving required
to make adaptations for each
individual. " That's why they are always
on the lookout for new ideas
and innovations in this growing field
of adaptive equipment. Thanks to
combined efforts, Camacho's adaptive
paddling participants can now
enjoy kayaking and canoeing without
any barriers and explore new
places that were once inaccessible.
SEE ALSO: Ensuring Kayak Launches
Are Adaptive and Inclusive, Lori Limpar,
Parks & Recreation, July 2023, Vol.
53, Iss. 7, tinyurl.com/4ht6rpmv.
Elena Christopher, CTRS, CPRP, is Recreation
Programs Specialist at Camacho Activity Center
(elena.christopher@austintexas.gov).
PARK S ANDRECRE AT ION . OR G | APRIL 2 0 2 4 | Parks & Recreation
15
PHOTO COURTESY OF CAMACHO ACTIVITY CENTER
http://tinyurl.com/y8rrkae7 http://tinyurl.com/3mvuywb6 http://tinyurl.com/2jsev6hy http://tinyurl.com/4ht6rpmv

April 2024 – Parks & Recreation

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of April 2024 – Parks & Recreation

April 2024 – Parks & Recreation - 1
April 2024 – Parks & Recreation - Cover1
April 2024 – Parks & Recreation - Cover2
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April 2024 – Parks & Recreation - Cover3
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