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Outrigger canoeing, canoeing and kayaking are excellent recreational, fitness and competitive paddle sports for individuals with physical and/or intellectual disabilities.
USCA's Adaptive Paddling Chair, Jan Whitaker began working with paddlers with disabilities in 2007 and continues to promote new paddle sports opportunities as a USCA chairman and also as President of Cape Ability Outrigger Ohana, Inc. (CAOO), a chapter of Disabled Sports USA and Paralympic Sport Club Western New York.
CAOO's mission is to provide the opportunity for individuals with disabilities to gain confidence and dignity through participation in paddle sports, recreation and related educational programs.
Jan helped USCA present its first adaptive paddling event at the 2001 USCA National Championships at Lake Lanier, Georgia where a local adaptive clinic and exhibition outrigger canoe races were held. USCA offers national championship sprint races for adaptive paddlers as part of the annual USCANational Canoe & Kayak Championships. Jan continues to provide clinics and presentations to promote adaptive paddling and assist groups in starting new programs.
USCA is pleased to announce that at a meeting in Guangzhou, China in December 2010, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Governing Board voted to increase the number of sports at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games to 22 with the addition of para-canoe and para-triathlon to the existing Sports Programme. Jan serves as a member of USA Canoe/Kayak's Paracanoe Committee and the IVF's Adaptive Paddling Committee - see video. In 2009, she coached the first United States outrigger canoe team entered in the ICF World Sprint Championships; the team earned a gold medal. Jan also assisted in coaching the adaptive paddlers who represented the United States in the K1 and K2 races; the K2 team earned a silver medal.