Learning From the Best in Adapted Sports at the ISAPA


Last month Aaron Osborne, our Projects Manager, received a scholarship from Sports New Zealand to attend the International Symposium of Adapted Physical Activity (ISAPA) 2023. It was hosted by the University of Otago and involved 250 delegates from 23 different countries.


Aaron Osborne has been leading the charge in developing our PaddleAble programme which was set up after the sport was one of 16 to receive funding from the Sport NZ Disability Fund to engage more with the disability community.


It was the first time the symposium has been held in New Zealand so Aaron was keen to make the most of this opportunity right on our doorstep. The ISAPA provides physical activity professionals with an opportunity to share their knowledge and experience in professional preparation, research, advocacy, and service delivery in the fields of adapted physical activity, physical education, and sport science.




With 24 per cent – almost one in four adult Kiwis – identifying as having a disability – Canoe Racing NZ saw huge opportunities to “shift the needle” in disability inclusive paddling opportunities and Aaron has been working hard to achieve this.


PaddleAble is not about developing more Paracanoe athletes, “this is not about high performance funding for Paracanoe but it was to enable clubs to be more inclusive of those with a disability in the hope of attracting more disabled people to the sport” explains Aaron.


The recent ISAPA symposium reinforced that PaddleAble is on the right track, “there were loads of interesting learnings we can use to strengthen PaddleAble, but it was reassuring to know our strategy and approach is in the right direction. It was awesome to see some really great programmes and successful initiatives, it’s inspiring to see where we take it next,” says Aaron.


More about our PaddleAble Programme


Connecting with the likes of Blind Sport NZ, the Halberg Foundation and several Parafed organisations helped us to establish how best to support disabled paddlers. The PaddleAble project was piloted at North Shore Canoe Club and is currently being rolled out to CRNZ clubs.


Canoe Racing NZ provide frameworks and support to allow the clubs and providers to deliver quality and equitable paddling opportunities for those living with impairments through the provision of education, resources, systems and equipment. 



After completing the PaddleAble education clubs make a ‘PaddleAble commitment’, ensuring they’re dedicated long term to being inclusive, and giving assurance to those with a disability that this provider has the right know-how to support them into the sport of paddling.


“We help to educate the clubs on everything from equipment needs or even things as simple as when a paddler first signs up for the club having an option for that paddler to say they have an impairment,” says Aaron.


***Learn more about PaddleAble here

***If your club or organistion would like to become PaddleAble endorsed or work towards becoming more Disability Inclusive please make contact with Aaron Osborne – aaron.osborne@canoeracing.org.nz

***If you are interested in attending PaddleAble Disability Inclusion Education please complete the following form click here

***If you would like to learn more about Paracanoe racing click here