Dragon Boating in Dartmouth
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Dragon Boating in Dartmouth

September 8, 2019

[music playing] NARRATOR: Anthony and
Victoria bring you this AMI This Week Short Cut. [music playing] Victoria, we all know
how much you love rowing, but have you ever
tried dragon boating? VICTORIA NOLAN: No, I haven’t. Our boat only has
four people in it, so I can’t imagine a boat
with that many people. But I’d definitely
like to give it a try. ANTHONY MCLACHLAN: Well,
Halifax presenter Laura Bain wanted to give it a try as
well, especially after hearing about a blind and partially
sighted crew in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. From Lake Banook,
here’s Laura’s story. LAURA BAIN: It’s the last
practice of the season, but despite being
a total newbie, I’m quickly welcomed
into the group. Paddles in hand, we head
down the dock and load into the 12 metre long boat. It’s a tight squeeze,
with two on each bench, but everyone’s in a good mood. At the bow of the boat is
president of the Dartmouth Dragon Boat
Association and coach of this crew, Albert McDonald. Since we need to get
out into the lake, the work begins right away. ALBERT MACDONALD: OK, so
let’s just get the front six, so that’s back to Matt. Front six, paddles up, take it away. And we’re going to count, right? One, two. One, two. Good. LAURA BAIN: That counting is
something we’ll do a lot during the practice. All 20 paddlers
have to be in sync, and each count
represents one stroke. ALBERT MACDONALD: One. Back top. One. Back top. LAURA BAIN: I’m a bit slow
getting the hang of it. ALBERT MACDONALD: Laura’s
got to count to one. One. Back top. LAURA BAIN: One. ALBERT MACDONALD:
Now we’re talking. LAURA BAIN: I’m too eager. But it isn’t long before we’re
making it all the way to five. One, two, three, four, five. The counting is actually
part of the adaptation, as Albert explains. ALBERT MACDONALD: With
blind and partially sighted paddlers, which we just
were out paddling with, the adaptation for
them is obviously they can’t use visual cues. But they become very
adept and quickly adapt by using non-visual
cues, like timing and counting and feeling the boat. I always joke that someone on
the shore is kind of going, five, three, one, you know,
trying to make sense of it. It’s a bit of a
different language. But we’re teaching
them the language, the different packages
of strokes we need to be able to stay together. Go. One, two, three, four, five. One, two, three. LAURA BAIN: A few
benches ahead of me is Tomi Adesina Since moving
here from her native Nigeria, she’s been immersing herself in
the local blind and partially sighted community. TOMI ADESINA: I’ve been in
Nova Scotia for eight months. And I came because my education. I heard that Canada has really
good accessibility services. I’m here, and I’ve been
overcoming challenges and learning how to live
with vision loss. LAURA BAIN: One major
challenge this summer was facing her fear of water
and trying dragon boating. TOMI ADESINA: Oh my
god, I was so scared of being in the water. Water has been like
my biggest fear. LAURA BAIN: She conquered her
fear, and now she’s hooked. TOMI ADESINA: Just hearing
Albert shout, three, two, one. One, two, three, four,
five, it’s just fun. And I get to meet other
people with vision loss. LAURA BAIN: Also
in the boat today is Jennifer MacNeil-Noble. A lifelong fan of
water sports, Jennifer appreciates how
adaptable dragon boating is for people who are
blind or partially sighted. JENNIFER MACNEIL-NOBLE:
It focuses a lot on things that we already do. So, you know, your
spatial awareness, counting, keeping a rhythm. So just things that
we can do anyway. You don’t have to
see, so you feel like an equal in the sport. You don’t feel like maybe you’re
a burden or you’re, you know, not doing as much
work as everyone else. So it’s nice that way. LAURA BAIN: It was
Jennifer’s idea that the crew should prepare
for their first race next year. ALBERT MACDONALD:
So everybody knows what we’re doing, now let’s
stroke from that upper bit, right? So when you’re coming
in with your one, two, come in with that
perfect rhythm, and then we’re going
to maintain that. Right? There’s been a real
sort of groundswell from within the
crew that, you know, they want to go into a
race next year as a group. That’s our goal for
next year, is to race as a crew in a
mainstream event just compete like everybody else. LAURA BAIN: With
this end in mind, they’ve been paddling a 100
metre course at the end of each practice, trying to beat
their previous time. It’s pretty intense. ALBERT MACDONALD: One, two. One, two. One, two. A new world record of 35.3! LAURA BAIN: Beating their
personal world record is a great way to
end the season. I think I’ll try it
again next summer. The enthusiasm of paddlers
like Tomi is infectious. TOMI ADESINA: I love
it, love it, love it. I’m going to come
back next year. VICTORIA NOLAN: Oh, hearing
the sounds of that crew paddling makes me
long for next summer when I get back on the water. And as we heard, this crew will
be back at it again next year. ANTHONY MCLACHLAN: One
thing Laura mentioned is how great the sighted
members and the volunteers were. The Dartmouth Dragon Boat
Association provided training on how to guide
and assist people who are blind or
partially sighted, and Laura said it really showed. VICTORIA NOLAN: For
more information about this blind and
partially sighted crew, or for other opportunities
that this Dragon Boat Association offers, you can
check out their website, DragonBoatEast.ca.

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