Cal Poly San Luis Obispo -- October 1, 2003

Cal Poly's Adapted Paddling Program Receives Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation Award

The California Polytechnic State University Foundation and Kinesiology Professor Kevin Taylor have been awarded a $10,780 Quality of Life Grant by the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation (CRPF) to develop a “solo quad-conversion” project.

Taylor and Mechanical Engineering Professor Frank Owen and their students will modify a canoe and a kayak by attaching small electric motors converted to respond to “sip and puff” controls.

“Our goal for the project is to allow individuals with quadriplegia to participate as fully as possible in our highly successful Adapted Paddling Program,” said Taylor.

The use of electric motors will also create non-polluting craft from which participants can enjoy the natural environment without harming it, Taylor said.

The project – with students and faculty working side by side – exemplifies Cal Poly’s learn-by-doing credo, Taylor said. “By serving the local population of people with disabilities, this project provides a powerful means by which Cal Poly can give back to the community through the industry of its students.”

The Cal Poly Adapted Paddling Program is offered in collaboration with SLOCO Access, a local nonprofit organization focusing on disability awareness and education. Since its inception in 1999, the paddling program has offered people with mobility impairments the experience of canoeing and kayaking in Morro Bay. Taylor said the program is dedicated to providing empowerment for people with disabilities and to teaching Cal Poly students to see beyond an individual’s “disability” andconnect with the human being.

To date, more than 150 people have either been trained or become participants in the paddling program. Many, like Mike Ward, a former local firefighter who suffered an injury resulting in quadriplegia, have called it a life-changing experience. With the help of students and program facilitators, Ward paddled the Morro Bay estuary in a kayak. “This has opened up a whole new world for me,” he said. His involvement in the Adapted Paddling Program was the catalyst for the solo quad-conversion project.

This is the second grant Taylor has received from the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation. In June 2001, a $5,000 grant from the CRPF enabled the Adapted Paddling Program to establish an equipment base that has since been further developed through support from Cal Poly and equipment manufacturers. For more information on the Adapted Paddling Program, contact Taylor at (805) 756-1785 or by e-mail at

The Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation awarded a total of $620,969 in Quality of Life Grants to 55 organizations nationwide as part of its spring 2003 funding cycle of the Quality of Life Program. The Quality of Life Program, conceived by Dana Reeve, CRPF director and chair of the Quality of Life Committee, awards grants to programs that improve the daily lives of people living with disabilities, particularly spinal cord injury. Funding is awarded twice yearly on improving accessibility, education, independent living, sports activities and other areas.

“The Quality of Life Program has grown in leaps and bounds since its inception in 1996 and continues to be incredibly rewarding, not only for the grant recipient, but for CRPF and me personally,” said Reeve. “As CRPF diligently continues its search for a cure [for spinal cord and related injuries], the Quality of Life Program vigorously works to help people with disabilities in the here and now. These programs are improving the lives of so many by making life easier, more productive and enjoyable for those living with paralysis.” For more information about the CRPF Quality of Life Program or a complete listing of grant recipients, please visit

Contact: Cary Bowdich(805) 756-5713; Sharon Kuhlenschmidt(805) 756-5718

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