Thursday, December 18, 2014

Lake Metroparks' adapted boating program sailing awards seas

Score one for Lake Metroparks which deservedly is up for top honors for a recreational boating program built around people with special needs.

The Ohio Parks and Recreation Association’s awards program’s official entry has a rather unwieldy moniker dubbed “Special Populations Lake Metroparks Adapted Boating.”

Even so, the program is one of three submissions in the running for the Association’s Governor’s Award, presented as the best thing any parks system is doing.

Lake Metroparks’ “Adapted Boating” program has already earned the Association’s best adaptive program award.

What the body of the parks system’s submission details is how the four-week-long project assisted people with special needs in discovering how to safely sail, paddle and also operate a wide variety of pleasure craft.

Each session, says the application document, “… included education in a different type of boat” from kayaks to sailboats to power boats.

Training was done by parks’ staff that ensured they and their students were properly fitted with boating-safety gear such as life jackets. Instructors also carried handheld marine-type communication devices.

Park volunteers and parents of the students assisted as well.

Activities were conducted this past summer at the parks system’s Fairport Harbor Lakefront Park.

The program ‘s intent – among other things – was to increase education and safety awareness in safe boating skills along with an emphasis on paddling techniques, sportsmanship and “improved motor development.”

Equal to those goals was simply to allow the participants to have fun, said the project’s leader and Lake Metroparks’ staff official Jim Meadows.

Also, official assistance came from Fairport Harbor Village, the Spirit of America Foundation, Grand River Marina and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, said Tom Adair, Lake Metroparks’ Park Services Director.

“This is what our people do every day, rain or shine, and as often as not, on their own time, too,” said also Paul Palagyi, Lake Metroparks’ executive director.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

 Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who  covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 100 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.

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