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Community Living Simcoe County

Abilities in Motion (AIM) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing kayaking opportunities for individuals with physical and developmental disabilities in our community.

The program, operated by Pauline Halstead and Andy Owens in conjunction with Earl Rowe Park, was a great success this past summer. Participants from Community Living Association of South Simcoe (CLASS) enjoyed the use of specially-outfitted kayaks either independently, or in tandem with qualified instructors in an exciting, safe environment.

AIM provides the opportunity to kayak amongst friends, with the emphasis on fun!  The adults and youth from the summer camp were able to learn new skills whilst enjoying a sense of freedom in their novel surroundings as they paddled or were pulled along the lake. The goal is to build self confidence and challenge the individuals to try new experiences and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment.

PADDLE WITH LOVE by Connie Economopoulos

I first read about kayaking for people with disabilities in a Toronto Harbourfront events program brochure.  Kayaking was something I always wanted to do but did not know how to go about doing it with a significant disability.  Kayaking sessions were being offered through Ability in Motion.  So I contacted that organization and received a very pleasant and enthusiastic response from program coordinator, Pauline Halstead.  Pauline quickly set a first kayaking session with me despite the fact that I went over my difficulties with her which involve using a wheelchair as well as having upper body limitations.   When I had to fill out for Ability in Motion information about myself as well as the course name I was signing up for, Pauline told me I can call the course “Paddle with Love”.  And what a day of love, excitement, fun and encouragement my first kayaking course or session turned out to be!

At the Harbourfront, the dock assistants used a manual lift to lower me into the kayak and Pauline and the other assistants placed extra supportive cushions around the seat and sides of the boat to help me sit and keep an upright position.  Pauline then attached lightweight paddles in front of me with rope so that they would not slip away from me.  She also rigged her boat to mine so we could travel together and off we went! I felt like I was floating in the water with great speed.  Pauline instructed me on proper use of the paddles. It was so much fun!  We went around the Harbourfont and even under a dark overpass tunnel.

I felt my dream of kayaking on my own come true.  I definitely recommend this paddle of love course to anyone with a disability wishing to experience the freedom of motion in the water and independence in sport.

Great Big Hug – By Derrick Lavallee

Pauline Halsted, Director of Abilities in Motion, is trying to get people who have physical disabilities out on the water.  Even when our muscles and bum are sore she makes me very happy and always able to make me smile. We all need to help Pauline to reach her goal; this woman in my eyes has a heart of gold.  The donations that we make to this organization allow people such as myself to get out of the wheelchair and forget our medical problems and just be free of pain.

When out on the water looking to the beach and seeing the wheelchairs they look like little ants sitting on the shore, the Government needs to give us more money so that ladies like Pauline can bring her programs to other communities. It is an honor to be a part of this website it is an honor to be asked to write for this website so we really need to give this organization a GREAT BIG HUG!

Because yes we all have challenges we all have days where we ask ourselves why are we doing this? Why is this important? Why it’s so important is because doctors are always after people who have physical limitations to be on a diet.

I am asking the Federal Government to please please give this organization grant money to continue their fine work within all our communities.

When in the water you are totally a different person.  The program that we have for adaptive kayaking is beneficial for person who have physical limitations when we are in the water those limitations are gone. The sunshine is in our hair, and the paddles are in the water, this past year I learned how to paddle on my own I did not need anyone sitting on the back of the rigor.  I would go in a lot of circles however I was still learning how to do things on my own.

So please Federal Government give money for adaptive kayaking to take place so everyone has a right to get out there and be free on our Ontario Lakes.

Lucy Mekler, Writer, Broadcaster, Disability Advocate

Pauline loves the outdoors and paddling. Pauline also loves helping people to achieve. This is a made-to-order combination for people of all ages and abilities who would like to get involved in a healthful sport and enjoy its many benefits.

I have watched Pauline work her magic on fearful wannabe paddlers who later went on to rate paddling as their favourite activity. If someone has the will and wants to paddle, regardless of their fears and challenges, Pauline will figure out the how. Pauline Halstead changes lives. Even the most fearful and challenging students will come away with more confidence and an appreciation of kayaking as a sport and fun activity.

Canews ~ Kayaking and Overcoming Obstacles with Disabilities

I had my first experience with kayaking about four yrs ago, I was introduced while at camp with March of Dimes and a very nice instructor named Pauline Halstead. I must admit I was a little apprehensive at first, I should point out that I use a wheelchair for my main mode of transportation, but that didn’t deter me from this new experience.  ~ Rachael Burrows, Paralympic Athlete

What others have to say…

Thank you so very much for a wonderful day spent out on the water.  Our Youth In Action group had a fabulous time.  Your efforts in making the day successful were really appreciated! We hope that next year we will be able to participate in such a rewarding experience again. ~ Sonia Lauzon,  Orillia Youth Worker, Simcoe Community Services

My daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed kayaking. The freedom and independence really builds your confidence . Thank you for this amazing experience.  ~ Sharon & Daniella

My Name is Jonathan Brown. I have C.P (Cerebral Palsy) and Epilepsy (Seizures). I do track and field with (OCPSA) that’s Ontario Cerebral Palsy Sports Association and I Work Part Time for The Home Depot. It feels great to be on the water because you feel peaceful on it and you don’t have to worry about life as well.  ~ Jonathan Brown

Feeling free with nature. ~ Simon Qiggaittuq

I had a wonderful afternoon. ~ Andrea Tipping

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