Nestled in the County of Renfrew along the Madawaska River, the Paddler Co-op has developed a one-of-a-kind accessible whitewater paddling program for people with physical disabilities. With the help and guidance of Dave Calver at Society of Inclusion and Participation (SiP) Global Adventures, the team at Paddler Co-op has made their site, facilities, equipment, and staff better equipped to welcome paddlers with disabilities.
By creating a more accessible environment at Paddler Co-op, they have expanded their membership and fostered an inclusive environment where everyone, no matter their abilities, feels welcome. First, the physical environment was addressed. With the help of members and staff a fully accessible composting washroom was constructed. They were also able to install a graded walkway down to the water that exceeds accessibility standards to make a more inviting and blended access point for waterfront between those wanting a gradual slope and those comfortable with the (pre-existing) steeper slope, side by side.
The accessibility training component of the project and greater awareness of the challenges faced by the disability community bolstered their team's understanding of compassionate and user-focused service as well as creating a more balanced culture at Paddler Co-op where they can acknowledge and reduce existing unconscious biases and barriers the disability community faces on a basis.