A special  free Paralympic Event at Lee Valley White Water Centre for people with disabilities has proved a roaring success, with over  50 people taking part in a range of water sports.
Individuals and groups from London, Hertfordshire and Essex as well as Coventry, Ashford, Kent and Sussex, tackled the centre’s white water rapids in a raft or tried out kayaking and canoeing on the lake.
Inspired by the Paralympic Games in Rio and supported by Lee Valley Regional Park Authority’s Community Access Fund, the day enabled people with a wide range of disabilities to get out on the water with the support of the centre’s fully qualified and experienced raft guides and staff.
The groups had a chance to experience speeding down the 300m long Olympic course where Team GB won gold and silver in the London 2012 canoe slalom event or to have a go at rafting down the centre’s 160m Legacy Course. They could also choose instead to paddle on the flat water lake in kayaks and canoes.
Following the special day at Lee Valley White Water Centre, enthusiasts who wish to continue with watersports have a chance to try out a full course with brand new Paddleability sessions for children and young people with special educational needs.  
Sponsored by Epping Forest District Council and Lee Valley White Water Centre, the new five week course at Lee Valley White Water Centre, in Waltham Cross (www.gowhitewater.co.uk)  starts on 29 September from 16:00 – 17:30  every Thursday and is aimed at those wanting to get into paddlesports for the first time. For those aged 8 and over, the five week course costs  £40. To book, or for more information, call 01992 564 561; or email: oworsfold@eppingforestdc.gov.uk
Paskell Blackwell, Lee Valley White Water Centre’s General Manager said: “We firmly believe that everyone should be able to access all our activities and services and this special event shows how activities like this can benefit a variety of different  groups, promoting health and fitness and boosting confidence.  Everyone had a great day and many tried sports they had not done before.”
Lee Valley Regional Park Authority has invested £113,000 into the Community Access Fund, a programme that is currently being piloted to offer financial support to access the sports, outdoor learning and activities available in the park. 
Working closely with local authorities across London, Hertfordshire and Essex, the Authority is providing community and education groups the chance to experience a wide range of activities, from white water rafting, cycling and playing tennis in London 2012 venues to horse riding, ice skating and orienteering. The programme is working directly with 16 local authorities in its first year.