Krista from the National Sports Center for the Disabled

Not just for Fun, how the Bellyak helps the Differently-Abled

The National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD) is therapeutic, recreation organization, based in Denver Colorado. The NSCD has been one of the first rehab groups to use the Bellyak in a therapeutic setting. After attending the No Barriers Summit (an adaptive sports gathering) in Telluride, we realized there is no such thing as disabled – only differently-abled.

Krista from the National Sports Center for the Disabled

By Krista Dominguez, a therapist with the NSCD.

“We have been using the Bellyak in our program for several of our participants. A few that we have had success with have been people with spinal cord injuries, visual impairments (VI), and developmentally delayed individuals. For these individual cases, there are many reasons that the Bellyak has been a better option than a traditional kayak. One of our participants has no function of their muscles from their sternum down due to a spinal cord injury. He wanted to paddle whitewater but had a hard time maneuvering a kayak and wasn’t able to roll. We decided to introduce the Bellyak to him and he can now maneuver much easier, so much so that it’s all he wants to paddle now. He has more control of the boat in a prone position and he’s able to paddle whitewater with us.

We also put people with visual impairments on Bellyak because it takes away the fear of being trapped inside of a boat and thus they too can maneuver more easily. These individuals can feel the water under them better and understand how to maneuver the boat with their hands. Sometimes teaching paddling to someone with a visual impairment can be hard because they can’t see the orientation of the blade or how the blade is moving in the water.

Individuals with developmental delays sometimes have a fear of being trapped inside the boat and are also afraid of what will happen if they flip upside down. Once again, the Bellyak takes away those fears and they get to focus on the activity of kayaking instead. With these individuals we teach them paddling with their hands and also have them sit on the Bellyak and work on paddle skills. The Bellyak has been a great addition to our fleet of kayaks. We use them on a weekly basis with much success and are excited to continue to use them with the individuals I have mentioned and many more.”