Paddle boarding aquatic therapy helps special needs kids in Ga. make big strides

“It is being out here, being able to participate in an activity they might not have thought they could do.”
Published: Jul. 26, 2022 at 6:32 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 26, 2022 at 9:54 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - There is one Georgia lake where there are no limits, where kids with special needs can find their independence, stand up into their strengths and have fun during the process.

Paddle board therapy is real and it’s helping Georgia kids make huge strides each week.

“So, you are basically telling these kids every time they go out on the water, ‘you are capable?’” asked CBS46 reporter Sawyer Buccy.

“Oh, 100%,” said Alyssa Walz.

It might be the way the water moves. It might be the slight breeze in the air or the quiet cove with a gentle current, but this is a place of possibilities. A place where a paddle board becomes a tool to help you find your footing.

”We are showing them a world that doesn’t need to be inside a clinic,” said Walz, ”A paddle board is an unstable surface so just sitting on the board, even if you are not doing anything on the board, you are working on your core.”

Where you can stand tall and independent in a world that might focus on the things you cannot do.

”How do I know it works? I see it! I see kids go from not being able to stand on an unstable surface to standing on the paddle board standing by themselves,” said Walz.

This is Stand Up Paddle Boarding Aquatic Therapy, a program built to empower kids with special needs.

”I am partially deaf and I noticed how my balance and my strength changed on the paddle board,” said Walz.

Alyssa is working alongside Georgia State, conducting research for the past six years on the benefits of Paddle Boarding Aquatic Therapy. The research shows this sport isn’t just peaceful and fun, it is improving balance, strength, problem-solving and communication skills, and overall confidence.

Out here on the water, each child is the captain of their own ship; they move where they choose; they stand as long as they can balance.

This world, without limitations, is theirs.