Since 2018 I've been a board member of the Metro Washington Association of Blind Athletes (MWABA), an organization formed in 2015 that organizes outdoor recreational activities for blind youth and adults in the DC area. A popular event MWABA has held for several years is an afternoon spent at Key Bridge Boathouse where we rent several double kayaks for blind athletes to paddle with sighted volunteers, or with a friend or family member. For the first couple of years most of our blind paddlers were adults, but last summer we had some kids from DCPS come out to try kayaking as well, and we’d like to expand the event to include more youth participants.
Unfortunately, our limited funds have placed a cap on how many boats we can rent, and in turn how many paddlers we can accommodate. This has resulted in volunteers doubling or sometimes tripling up and spending less time with each blind paddler, making the experience more rushed and less fun for all involved. With this grant we would be able to double the number of boats we rent and offer both a longer option for our most adventurous paddlers and a shorter, relaxed option for the majority of paddlers without the need to rush back to accommodate a second shift of paddlers in the same boat. WE believe this will also leave more time for group socializing before and after paddling, which is one of the most valuable aspects of this activity because of the opportunity it affords for developing friendships and for blind youth to spend time with and get to know adult blind role models.
We would use the grant to reserve twelve double kayaks, twice the number we have reserved in the past. Because we want to offer a longer paddling option for those who are interested, we would like to reserve three of the kayaks for four hours ($360) and the other nine for two hours apiece ($540). We would spend the additional $100 on snacks and bottled water.
Funded by Washington, DC (June 2023)