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This regional canoe club wants to help everyone put an oar in, no matter their ability

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On the banks of Lake Mulwala, a new program is opening up the waters to everyone.

“No matter what your ability is, if you want to get on the water, we want to make this happen,” Yarrawonga Mulwala Canoe Club coach Tim Roadley said.

The club has been selected by Paddle Victoria to run its adaptive pilot program to empower people of all abilities to take up the water sport.

The canoe club on the NSW-Victoria border aims to be more inclusive.(Supplied: Tim Roadley)

This has been a long-term dream for many members.

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“We’ve got a history of being an inclusive paddling club,” Mr Roadley said.

“Each adaptive paddler has their own issues and the club and Paddle Vic will be working together to find a solution for each case.”

Regional club trials adaptive program

Several members of this New South Wales-Victoria border club are all-abilities.

In fact, one young member, Natalia-Drew Cole, recently won gold and silver at the Paddle Australia Canoe National Championships in the para class.

Mr Roadley said this was why Paddle Victoria approached the club to trial its adaptive program during its upcoming season.

As part of the pilot, Paddle Victoria recently travelled to the region to train local clubs on how to run inclusive paddling programs.  

Two people lower a canoe into water at a boat ramp while two other people look on
Paddle Victoria recently travelled to Yarrawonga-Mulwala to train local clubs on how to run inclusive paddling programs.(Supplied: Facebook)

The club also held an open session for the public, with service providers attending for a sneak peek at what the club will offer next season.

‘We’re offering that opportunity’

Also among the attendees was a young boy with cerebral palsy from Wodonga, who travelled an hour to see what the club was all about.

Mr Roadley said the young boy had recently had an inspiring encounter with dual Paralympic canoeist and gold medallist Curtis McGrath.

“That was one of the reasons why he came down — he’d met [Curtis McGrath] and said, ‘Oh, I want to do that’,” Mr Roadley said.

A small group paddles on a lake
Canoeists of all abilities enjoy a day paddling about Lake Mulwala.(Supplied: Tim Roadley)

The boy had no control over his left side but the club swiftly worked towards a solution.

Among the tools supplied by Paddle Victoria were boat pontoons, a transportable kayak launcher and double kayaks with single and double-blade paddlers.

“The team was able to come up with a solution of paddling a double sit-on-top kayak with the help of junior member Zoe Schweda for over half an hour,” Mr Roadley said.

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