Kayaking event adapts to participants
Midstate Independent Living Consultants (MILC) will host an adaptive kayaking event to give people with disabilities an opportunity to grow, have fun and meet new friends.
The 12th annual Adaptive Kayaking Event will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 17, at Mead Park, Stevens Point. Rain date will be Wednesday, Aug. 24. The day will include lunch, music, games and prizes, and of course, a relaxing time on the water.
“This event is to give people with disabilities the opportunity to try out a water sport and socialize with other community members,” said Robyn Dunahee, peer specialist/mental health coordinator at MILC.
“It is about empowering people with disabilities so that they know they can do new things,” she said.
Volunteers are needed for the event, including potentially transportation volunteers for people with wheelchairs. If interested in volunteering, or to sign up or request an interpreter, contact Dunahee at 800-382-8484 (ext. 228).
The event, which draws more than100 participants and volunteers each year, is sponsored by MILC and made possible by Dive Point Scuba, Boys and Girls Club of Portage County and volunteers such as the Stevens Point Area Senior High School girls swim team.
“We have adaptive equipment and experienced transfer people so that everyone can try it out,” Dunahee said.
For Linda Shilt of Stevens Point, the event is one that she looks forward to every year. Though she has missed a couple of times, she plans to attend again this year.
And for her, it is a very big deal, she said.
“I have a fear of the water,” Shilt said. “When I first did this, I was scared to death … Robyn convinced me and made me feel safe. As soon as I got in there, the fear went away and I was like, ‘I did something.’”
Shilt has epilepsy, and any other time wouldn’t dream of going near water. The day she first stepped into the kayak, she attended the event to provide support to other participants. She planned to “just hang around,” she said, but she learned something new about herself and discovered a new confidence in what she can do.
That rise in confidence not only helps the individual, but pays dividends back into society, participants said.
“It increases their self-confidence and it betters their potential in society,” said Eric Peterson of Stevens Point, another participant. “It fulfills them so they’re willing to take more changes and learn more.”
When he says “they,” Peterson actually is including himself. He also has epilepsy and has attended the event three times.
“It seems to get better and better every year,” he said. “Just to do something like that and be with other individuals … it’s enjoyable.”
ROCC Point (Resources, Opportunities, Choices and Connections), a goal-driven recovery center for people with mental illness, also contributes to the event.
MILC opened in July 2000 and continues to serve people with disabilities in 11 counties in central and northern Wisconsin. With more than 300 employees, staff provide resources to people with disabilities based on their individual needs, including information and referral services, advocacy, independent living skills training and peer support, loans, employment and equipment.
The goal is to help each individual empower themselves to be as independent as they possibly can be, and educate the community about issues, concerns or needs of people who have disabilities.
For more information about MILC or the event, contact Dunahee or visit www.milc-inc.org.