Adaptive rowing gives those with disabilities the chance to enjoy the river while being active

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HARTFORD-- A sweltering summer day made the choice to come to the Riverfront Boathouse off Leibert Road even easier. But for some, the heat wasn't the draw--it was the smooth waters.

Twice a week, the crew from the Connecticut Adaptive Rowing Program is easy to spot on the Connecticut River. CARP is a collaboration between physical therapists at Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital and Riverfront Recapture.

"We provide a real opportunity for individuals with disabilities to get out on the river and be able to learn to row," said Joan Karpuk, a Mount Sinai physical therapist and a coordinator from CARP.

The program is designed for those who have had life-altering injuries or illnesses, but want to remain active. "We have had individuals who have had strokes, brain injuries, cerebral palsy, the whole gamut," Karpuk said. "There are always two people in the shell (boat) and they just get the experience of learning how to row."

The boats have modified equipment to help rowers with various disabilities to do a workout that uses all the muscle groups.

Becky Caldwell from Glastonbury had a brain aneurism 10 years ago and joined CARP four years ago. "I quickly learned it was going to help me with my coordination and my stamina and for all those reasons I continue to come."

The program includes close to two dozen rowers and has recently invited veterans groups to take up rowing on the river.

Karpuk said, "There are no limits to doing what you want to do. It's definitely life-altering.

To find out more about Connecticut Adaptive Rowing Program click here.

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