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A Grand Adventure: Michigan's First Universally Accessible Kayak Trip

PHOTO: Trip organizer Scott Fraser, right, uses kayaking to help veterans and others living with disabilities or cognitive challenges regain independence and enhance their lives. Photo credit: Highland River Adventures, Vineyard Production.
PHOTO: Trip organizer Scott Fraser, right, uses kayaking to help veterans and others living with disabilities or cognitive challenges regain independence and enhance their lives. Photo credit: Highland River Adventures, Vineyard Production.
June 18, 2014

EATON RAPIDS, Mich. - Paddling with a purpose is the theme of "A Grand Adventure," a group trek on Michigan's largest inland waterway aimed at raising money and awareness to create the first universally accessible water trail in Michigan.

Event coordinator Scott Fraser, who owns an adaptive paddling school, said he has seen firsthand how beneficial being on the water can be for those with physical, emotional or cognitive challenges.

"People would say, 'Well, I can't do that.' Well, why can't you? So, we ensure that people of all needs have access to the waterways - that's people with Down Syndrome, our wounded veterans, that all have equal access to the river," Fraser said.

The kayak trip will launch Thursday just south of Eaton Rapids and will cover more than 100 miles. Organizers are working with state and local leaders along the route to enhance access and amenities for paddlers of all abilities. More than half of the registered participants are wounded veterans.

Besides the therapeutic element to being on the water, Fraser said, he believes paddling can break down mental barriers and help people with injuries live productive, meaningful lives.

"Healing starts in the mind," he said. "So, it's health and healing through paddle sports, and if you can start the healing process in the mind, the body will follow."

The trip will make stops in several Michigan communities, including Lansing, Grand Ledge and Portland. More information is online at AGrandAdventure2014.com.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI