Sailing benefits spinal cord group

Spinal Cord Injury BC Okanagan members set sail with Disabled Sailing Association

If they’re not meeting for coffee and chatting, they’re sailing, scuba diving, cycling, playing tennis, and soon, even water skiing. These are just some of the activities that peer members of Spinal Cord Injury BC (SCI BC) are getting involved in.

On Wednesday, peers from across the Okanagan will meet up with the Disabled Sailing Association to try sailing, many of them for the first time since their injury.

“Apparently it’s completely independent, so to be able to do that on my own would be pretty cool,” said Shawn Baxter, a 27-year-old with paraplegia who joined the local SCI BC Peer group only three weeks ago.

Since then, he’s been hand cycling with James Hecktner, SCI BC’s Kelowna peer coordinator, and other local peers two or three times a week.

“I knew I could do things like sail, sit-ski and waterskiing, but I just didn’t know that there was anything in town,” said Baxter. “It’s been great getting to know everyone.”

Hecktner and his colleague in Vernon, Sonja Gaudet – a Paraplympic champion and Canada’s most decorated wheelchair curler – organize coffee groups in communities across the Okanagan every week.  They plan on hosting kayaking, rowing and camping events throughout the summer.

“These events impact our peers in all aspects of their lives,” said Gaudet.

The expansion comes just in time for National Access Awareness Week (Disability Awareness Week) – May 26 to June 1.

To learn more about Spinal Cord Injury BC, visit and to find events throughout the Okanagan region, visit