Awesome Everywhere!

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South Bend, IN

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Water Belongs To Everyone

As far as I can remember I loved water. I also love making things accessible for myself and for the others.
I have been kayaking for 11 years. Inspired by self-driving cars last year with a group of engineers we designed a kayak that blind people can paddle independently. By using the water navigation system we developed I have been successfully paddling solo in and around San Francisco.
Kayaking and teaching are two of my passions. I taught my first independent kayaking class to the blind in Treasure Island in SF Bay on National Blind Sports Day, Oct. 6th.
I'm hoping to continue providing free kayaking lessons to the blind youth and adults in a safe, protected beach in SF and Istanbul.
In my kayak lessons participants learn basic paddling techniques, kayak safety, and how to navigate on the water by using Mr. Beep, a specially designed water navigation system.
Right now I have only one Mr. Beep so I can have only one person in my class.
With the help of this grant I am planning to build two more Mr. Beeps and increase my class size to 3 participants.
I already recruited experienced kayakers who will assist me to teach the classes and found safe coves to practice kayaking in SF and Istanbul.
Being able to paddle independently, having full control of the kayak, navigating without someone telling you go left, go right all the time is a very empowering feeling and I am hoping to share this with as many blind people as I can.
Accessing outdoors, being physically active, and being able to go on a fulfilling adventure improve quality of life for everyone and blind people are no exception.
With the help of Awesome Foundation grant I will reach out to more blind people who want to experience independent kayaking. All together will prove that water belongs to everyone and blind people have right to enjoy it as much as anyone else.
Ahmet The Blind Captain

What our grantee is saying: "This grant means a lot to me because This is the first step of a long transformational journey. I see every day how the power of outdoor adventure changes lives. I have a bold, but simple, goal. In 2019, I seek to offer life-changing adventures to blind youth and adults by sharing my passion of water sports. Your generous support will help me open access to independent kayaking to many blind youth and adults. Whether sharing the thrill of the first paddle in Istanbul's Bosphorus, the challenge of crossing the SF bay to Angel Island by sea kayak, the fun of a first-time on a sailboat or the confidence of navigating independently on the water accessing new adventures will continue to change lives. On behalf of the participants, volunteers, and myself thank you so much for being part of my long journey to make water sports accessible to all."

Funded by Disability (December 2018)