Photo by Lisa Vaughn
The third annual Kayaking Field Day was held recently at the Henry County Water & Sewerage Authority’s (HCWSA) Cubihatcha Outdoor Education Center on the Long Branch Reservoir.
LOCUST GROVE — The third annual Kayaking Field Day served special needs in a special way at the Henry County Water & Sewerage Authority’s (HCWSA) Cubihatcha Outdoor Education Center on the Long Branch Reservoir.
Organized by Paddle 4 Tomorrow for youngsters with special needs. The event included sponsors and volunteers who spent the day paddling and fishing for fun, and in preparation for upcoming Special Olympics activities.
Supporters of the kayaking event, like Tony Narcisse, president and chairman of the board for Paddle 4 Tomorrow, believe kayaking has the potential to become a model therapeutic activity for citizens with disabilities all across the state. Organizers from Paddle 4 Tomorrow and Henry County Special Olympics also are hoping the participation in kayaking by aspiring Special Olympians in Georgia may someday result in kayak racing evolving into an official Special Olympics sport.
On the weekend of Sept. 15, the organizations will host the first Special Olympics Kayaking Invitational at the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club. Special Olympic teams from around the state, including Henry County, will meet and compete in kayak races. The weekend prior, Paddle 4 Tomorrow will host an event near Athens, when another 75 or so citizens with disabilities, including six power-wheelchair soccer players, will be kayaking together.
Narcisse had high praise for the Cubihatcha Center, noting it goes far beyond the expected benefits of outdoor recreation.
“This is a very special event, because we see it as a demonstration of the power of the human spirit and the very best of what community is all about,” says Narcisse. “By paddling kayaks, those with physical or mental challenges are whisked away from those barriers; and in doing so, everyone involved in the event is uplifted.”
One object of the recent field day event, according to officials from Paddle 4 Tomorrow, was to give budding anglers and kayakers and opportunity to safely hone their skills and shed the constraints of mental and/or physical limitations, HCWSA spokesman Chris Wood.
“We’re glad we have an ideal site for such an event,” said Wood. “We are aware of the organization’s effort to generate support for kayaking as a Special Olympics activity, and the Authority is glad it was able to provide a facility to accommodate their needs. ” the HCWSA spokesperson continued.
Zach Yurchuch, a rising senior at the University of Georgia, who is a member of Power4Tomorrow, said volunteers are being sought for upcoming special needs activities.
“We looking at 75 to 100 athletes, so the more volunteers the merrier,” said Yurchurch.
Ken Pressley, a naturalist supervisor for the HCWSA, says the Authority was approached more than three years ago by Doug Laverty, Paddle 4 Tomorrow Special Olympics Program Director, with an idea to host a Kayaking Field Day for local citizens with disabilities and Special Olympians from Henry County. Laverty learned about the Cubihatcha Center from William Cramer with Maurice Sporting Goods, which is used for the “Maurice Cares Day” event, which is set for July 17.
Sponsors of the Kayaking Field Day include the Henry County Parks and Recreation Department’s Therapeutic Recreation Division, the Henry County Sheriff’s Department, the Georgia Kayak Fishing Foundation, Shane’s Rib Shack, Design Packaging, Inc., Cannon Cleveland Funeral Directors, Troy Logistics and Hurricane Kayaks.