Adaptive Aquatics opens doors

Kids and adults enjoy taking part in water activities though the assistance of Adaptive Aquatics.

This year, Adaptive Aquatics celebrated its 30th anniversary.

Adaptive Aquatics takes place in Wilsonville from April to October providing clinics and workshops for disabled children and adults, so they can participate in water sports.

This program, which is one of the longest-operating adaptive water skiing programs in the country, began in 1980, when founded by Phil Martin.

Today, Executive Director Joe Ray makes sure trained experts, who are members of the American Water Ski Association, help with the teaching and exceed safety standards while using special equipment.

This equipment includes the MasterCraft ski boat, vests, and adaptive water skis.

Many people with disabilities can experience the independence this allows along with the excitement of water sports, which many of them did not think was possible before.

Adaptive Aquatics has helped train skiers with a variety of physical disabilities from cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, kernicterus and multiple sclerosis, to spinal cord injuries, post polio, amputations, acquired brain injuries and visual impairments.

Ray explains Adaptive Aquatics even serves soldiers who were wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan. Adaptive Aquatics has assisted a number of individuals to participate in the thrill of water sports, and all levels are seen from novice to intercontinental competitors.

The benefits are wonderful as activities increase health and fitness, while providing self-sufficiency and confidence.

Adaptive Aquatics is made possible through the donations of individuals, companies, corporations and civic organizations, which are all tax deductible donations.

Many people also have shown support to the program by donating their time through volunteer work and public speaking.

With the donations of others, Adaptive Aquatics was able to open their new facility this year on three acres of land on Lay Lake.

This facility now includes an education and optimal viewing area, where parents and children can learn and watch others during their lessons; a wheelchair friendly dock for canoeing and kayaking; and an area for skiers to be safely fitted for equipment and transfer easily from the boat house.

There is also a dressing, showering, changing and bathroom area, which are accessible bywheelchair.

Kennedy Tolbert is the community columnist for Wilsonville. She can be reached at kennedytolbert@bellsouth.net.