A few years ago, I heard about adaptive paddleboarding on The Today Show, and I was immediately intrigued! The Onit Ability Board was designed for people who use wheelchairs to be able to paddleboard while sitting in a wheelchair, affixed to a paddleboard. Simply transfer from your chair to the all-terrain surf chair with a locking mechanism attached, wheel on to the paddleboard, and away you go. I love being ON water, but not so much IN water, so it looked like something that I would really enjoy. The only problem was that it was gaining popularity in coastal areas, not in landlocked Tennessee where I live, even though we have a plethora of lakes and rivers.
Fast forward to this spring, when I heard from a friend that there was an adaptive paddleboard instructor, teaching on a calm section of a local river in Atlanta, with an Onit Ability Board. He was looking to get the word out and get more people paddling. I jumped at the chance and planned a trip for a group of high schoolers that I work with through ABLE Youth, a local wheelchair sports and independence group, another one of our ABLE Youth staff members, who is a wheelchair user, and me. I knew that none of the students had ever paddleboarded either, and I was excited for all of us to be introduced to a new water sport.