The first Waterways Ireland Paddles-Up Programme of 2019 will culminate on the Shannon-Erne Waterway this week with approximately 100 Transition Year students participating in a 10k Paddle.
The Paddles Up Programme is a 6 week Learn to Paddle programme involving learning the basic skills of kayaking and water safety and culminating in a Finals Day 10k paddle. The students completing the programme will receive a qualification awarded by Canoeing Ireland the National Governing Body in either a level 1 or 2 Kayaking Proficiency Skills.
The Programme is facilitated and delivered by the Sports Partnerships in counties Leitrim, Cavan and Longford in partnership with Canoeing Ireland Certified Coaches.
The event is taking place on the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Shannon-Erne Waterway and is part of the year of commemorative events.
John McDonagh Acting Chief Executive, Waterways Ireland said " As almost 100 students reach this landmark achievement today, I am delighted for them that their waterway experience has been so positive and hope for them that it is the start of a lifelong sport. Our strategic partnership with the Sports Partnerships in Longford, Leitrim and Cavan and with Canoeing Ireland have grown from strength over the past 4 years. The single Paddles Up Programme with 90 students in 2015 has grown to 11 programmes with over 3500 Transition Year students in 2019. This step change in the engagement of young people with our waterways and with outdoor recreation is a necessary one as we seek to build healthy, sustainable communities using the waterways.
Declan Boyle Leitrim Sports Partnership said "We have been involved in Paddles Up for 4 years now and it is great to see the programme growing. The students from Mohill Community College and Ballinamore Community School have been very enthusiastic about learning to kayak and it has been great to work with Waterways Ireland for another year."
Waterways Ireland has worked in partnership with Canoeing Ireland and the Sports Partnerships for four years now. The overall objective is to create experienced waterway users in all our local communities. For those that wish to continue in the sport, there are opportunities to join clubs and progress through the various canoe disciplines and potentially move into the competitive sports.
Through the partnership with Canoeing Ireland, Waterways Ireland is also supporting a Train the Trainer programmes. In our waterway communities there will then be more people with the capacity to set-up and run Canoeing clubs; training young and older people to participate in and enjoy this wonderful life-long recreational activity.