Jordan Kerton

Jordan Kerton

Equipment adapts for alternate abilities

NANAIMO - Recreational therapist on mission to open the outdoors to people of all abilities.

It’s not often one spots someone in a wheelchair on a paddleboard, but people with even severe mobility challenges were out on Westwood Lake for a paddling event Monday.

Adaptive Paddling Day Nanaimo was hosted by Access Revolution, a company created to promote outdoor sports and products, such as adaptive paddleboards and off-road wheelchairs, for people with mobility challenges.

“The whole concept is making the outdoors accessible for all,” said Jordan Kerton, recreational therapist and Access Revolution founder, who describes her North Vancouver-based company a social-impact business.

Kerton said she has worked with people with disabilities for 16 years, specializing in outdoor adventure.

At Westwood Lake she demonstrated the Onit Ability Paddleboard, which can be paddled independently or with a help from a paddling partner, depending on the rider’s upper body mobility. The San Diego-based manufacturer sells the board as a kit with outrigger pontoons, a wheelchair ramp and slots and a lock-down device to secure wheelchair and riders onboard.

Kerton has used fund-raising campaigns to help finance an ongoing campaign to visit communities around the B.C. where she demonstrates outdoor recreation concepts and products to municipal recreation programs and organizations for the disabled.

“I started a fundraising campaign online earlier in the summer to raise some funds to tour B.C., so that I could get to small communities that couldn’t afford to hire me. This way it’s free for everyone and I just show up and we make it happen,” Kerton said.

If a community or organization wants to start an outdoor sports program, Kerton provides the training on the equipment and helps set up the programs.

Jon Pinlott, a Nanaimo inventor, was also at the event with a prototype fly fishing boat designed to accommodate wheelchairs.

Rene Poirier, president of the Comox Valley Wheelchair Sports Society, tried out both devices, was impressed with the concepts. He said there’s potential to start an outdoor program for the disabled in Comox, where there is already a wheelchair basketball team, the Comox Coyotes.

“A lot of people with disabilities, because of our new technology, they stay home and play video games. They isolate,” Poirier said. “The basketball club that we’re running; I’ve got an octogenarian who plays and some of the military guys that have injuries. They’re not in a chair, but they get in a chair to play and it’s all fun.”

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