Rainbow Dragons workshop inclusion

Stuart Walters and Gordon Cox trialling dragon boating. Photo supplied

Stuart Walters and Gordon Cox trialling dragon boating. Photo supplied

Monica Wilcox 

Rainbow Region Dragon Boat Club is once again breaking new ground in the local sports arena.

Earlier this month, while Lake Ainsworth was awash with people, inflatable toys, SUPs and kayaks, the club became one of very few Australian dragon boat teams to hold a workshop learning how to best include people with disabilities in the sport.

This was made possible through a NSW Office of Sport grant.

Under the guidance of Jacki Lauff, the CEO of Sports Matters, a force pushing sports development for all, Rainbow Dragon coaches and sweeps and members of the community, with lower-leg and hearing limitations, trialled new training and communication techniques.

The coaches found it easier than they expected to adapt their skills, because dragon boating has always been an inclusive environment where men and women of all ages, fitness levels and range of abilities can join the club.

Gordon Cox who uses a wheelchair said ‘it was easier than I thought,’ and he was already working out how to adapt his equipment to a dragon boat.

Gordon made the point that it is important for people with a disability to feel part of mainstream community and dragon boating looks like giving them that opportunity.

Members of dragon boat clubs provide a community of commitment, encouragement, and support, as well as some serious competition.

In USA, dragon boating is  recognised as beneficial to returned soldiers and those rehabilitating after accidents.

This Rainbow club’s innovation path has a long way to go, and as Gordon said: ‘Start with baby steps’.

The Rainbow Dragons will host a Come-and-Try day February 19, 2017


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