Many People Wonder How The Disabled Challenge Outdoor Activities In The Wild: Here’s The Answer  

Ask any friends what their fondest memory of taking an Outward Bound courses is, and most will come back with an exciting story about their journey; how they played, explored, took risks, attempted to try new tasks and made new friends. At the time, you don’t realise how these outdoor experiences shape who you become later in life. As an experienced outdoor education organisation, we are committed to making such opportunities available to everyone, no matter their background, ability, or needs. We truly believe in the impact of high-quality courses can and also bring these huge benefits to people who have physical disability. From learning to make your own bed to taking your first journey in a kayak, the whole new “Adaptive Journey Programme” gives disabled people skills for life, an increased motivation and appetite for learning and broadening horizons, often opening up a whole new world of opportunity.  


What is Adaptive Journey Programme ?

This project provides valuable developmental opportunities for people who have a physical disability. In Hong Kong, there are over 400,000 persons with disabilities, which represent 6% of the population.

This is a pilot project which supports this often marginalized segment of the population by strengthening resilience, resourcefulness and courage, through progressive modules that culminate in a wilderness journey taking place in specially adapted sea kayaks. Through carefully facilitated experiences and proper support and equipment, people with a disability will be empowered to participate in sea kayaking in a similar capacity to able-bodied people. In turn this will help people with a disability have more belief in their own future and undertake a more active or healthy lifestyle after course is completed.



Who can join this journey?

Physical disabilities that are targeted for entry requirements into this course include those limiting mobility, dexterity or physical functioning. Impairments would include physical defects, upper or lower limb loss or impairment, poor manual dexterity and spinal impairments. Later cohorts may target specifically for visual or hearing loss, however each this program intentionally works with a small cohort during this pilot phase to evaluate and ensure in-depth selection, medical support and preparation is made for each group.



How can they face the difficulties ?

To provide the best outdoor experience to the disabled participants, we carefully plan our programme outline and manage risks. Appropriate medical screening and selection occurs prior to undertaking this course. Subsequently a weekend of progressive facilitated training modules is conducted that culminate in an extended wilderness journey. This programme module is designed progressively and use adapted equipment to reduce the attention to the disability for the duration of the program, thus creating space to focus more on characteristic Outward Bound values-forming experiences through care and facilitation.

Customised Gear And Experienced Instructors

A normal kayak can not assist a disabled person to go on a sea journey effectively. With proper support and equipment, a paddler with a disability can participate equally. Here is some customised gear that is used in Adaptive Journeys:


Experienced Instructors

Instructors complete an Adaptive Paddling Workshop run by the American Canoe Association. Instructors acquire the skills and knowledge needed to outfit equipment and modify teaching styles to allow people of all abilities to participate in paddle sport activities as safely, as comfortably, and with the same performance potential as all others.


Customised seat


Kayak chariots

This unique design allows transfers on a flat level surface (like a parking lot) by positioning the cockpit rim at wheelchair height. With the paddler in the kayak, the rig can be rolled into the water and floated off of the chariot - making most water entry points (like boat ramps) accessible. 


Transfer bench

This easy-to-use system provides a flat, smooth transfer surface at wheelchair height when used with our Kayak Chariot. It provides independence for the paddler, and safety for those assisting in the transfer.The paddler slides to a transfer board, positioned directly above the kayak seat. Adjustable handles enable the paddler to remove pressure from the transfer board, which is then removed - freeing the paddler to lower down onto the kayak seat.


Hand adaptation

This back-of-the-hand grip is designed for use by those who have some hand function and can grip the paddle shaft on their own, but need a bit more support. The adaptation takes lifting pressure off of the fingers and places it on the arms. The height is adjustable and the end is open to allow for proper pressure without inhibiting release.


Paddle pivot

The combination of our Universal Base with this pivoted paddle adaption allows one-arm control of the kayak. It also provides support to completely remove the weight of the paddle from the paddler's arms when using both arms. The pivot assembly snaps onto any paddle shaft. The paddle and pivot assembly lift out of the base for ease of entry and safety in the event of a wet exit.


Specialty/amputee

The basic armband is extended and lined with grip material to reduce slippage. Bands are added to provide anchor points beyond the first available joint.


Related news articles:

Disabled young Hongkongers relish chance of a life-changing adventure

Lawyers on the Hong Kong case have answers for those in need


Video Credit to: Ellen Taylor
Ellen Taylor is a film director passionates in film industry. She works in a variety of genres, styles and lengths for multiple platforms. She also helps filming for charities and NGOs.


Photos of customised gear credit to: Creatingability