HEALTHY LIVING: 5 things to know about adaptive indoor kayaking

HEALTHY LIVING: 5 things to know about adaptive indoor kayaking

reporter photo

WALLINGFORD — Kayaking in open water may not be ideal this time of year, however indoor kayaking is an option for those with disabilities and injuries through an adaptive program at Gaylord Hospital.

  The Record-Journal talked with the instructors, as well as participants, during a recent introductory class. Here are five things to know about the activity.

Health benefits

The benefits associated with adaptive sports are physical and emotional.

Katie Kowalski, therapeutic recreation specialist at Gaylord Hospital and program specialist for Gaylord Hospital Sports Association, said the program gives participants the confidence to participate in sports they embraced before their injury or to try something new despite their disability.

“They’re able to build some physical endurance, work on some fine motor tasks and have that social experience as well with people that might have a similar disability,” she said.

Kayak instructors Judy and Brian Cooper said the adaptive kayak class gives participants the opportunity to look beyond their disability or injury.

“We’ve had several...return to do open water (kayaking) just because they like to get out and have that feeling of freedom,” Cooper said.

Kayaking also builds upper body muscles. For those that have limited mobility below the waist, kayaking is a way for them to fully enjoy a sport.

”Best thing I ever heard is ‘you put everyone in these kayaks and get them on the water, you don’t see the disability,’” Kowalski said.


Adaptive kayaking classes are offered in November, February, April and June.

“The main goal is to allow the participants to figure out if they’re comfortable in a kayak and comfortable in the pool water because if that doesn’t happen then they’re not going to be comfortable in open water,” Cooper said.


After participants complete the program, they are able to try open water kayaking during summer outings through the sports association in collaboration with New Haven Parks and Recreation. Some places kayakers can practice their skills are Lighthouse Point and Wintergreen Lake in New Haven.


According to Kowalski, a lot of participants have not been in a pool since their injury and getting back in the water is a challenge. 

For Cheshire resident Kimberly Molaskey, kayaking is the latest of the adaptive sports she has tried in the last seven years. 

“It’s nice that they have these adaptive sporting events that I can still participate in,” she said. “I’m so thankful now that I can do it.”

Eileen Hasson of Rocky Hill said she was looking forward to getting back in a kayak. She previously was involved in dragon boating and had kayaked on vacation.

“It’s just nice being on the water because it’s very serene and in my case I had a stroke about two and a half years ago,” she said. “There’s something about being on the water that’s calm.”


The adaptive sports program at Gaylord offers 15 different sports throughout the year including skiing, archery, cycling, curling, golf, rugby, rock climbing and others. 

More information can be found by calling 203-284-2772

Other local places, among others, that offer adaptive sports include The Hospital for Special Care’s Paralympic Sport Club and the Meriden YMCA’s adaptive summer camp for children.
Twitter: @KusReporter


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