ACA DEI Statement
The ACA is committed to an environment in which participants, members and guests, as well as organizations they represent, feel welcome at all times and are treated with respect and dignity. We believe that all people are entitled to enjoy all aspects of paddling. Therefore, we expect that relationships among all who are involved in ACA sanctioned events and structures as leaders, committee participants, instructors and coaches, students, and competitors by are free of harassment, discrimination, or diminution of individuals for simply who they are, their values and their customs. The ACA seeks to be a community that recognizes that we each have something valuable to contribute.
Physical and social challenges for marginalized and communities of color, the differently abled, and economically disenfranchised have contributed to the homogeneous profile of today’s paddlesports participants. As the New England Council coined in the 1960s, “a rising tide lifts all boats,” if we can increase access and opportunities for the most disenfranchised communities, then there will only be positive outcomes and opportunities for others. To fully accomplish this mission, we strive to make our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusivity (DEI) fundamental to our organization in our programs, staff, board leaders. and organizational partners.
When the tragic 2020 murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor sparked a national conversation around racial justice, a cohort of ACA members, leaders within the paddling community, and board formed the ACA DEI Program Donation Fund, the DEI Board Committee, and the Paddlesports Action Committee.
An early DEI Working Group was initiated and led to the creation of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Program Donation Fund which supports ACA’s commitment to expanding access to paddlesports by removing financial or other barriers to participation for underrepresented groups or individuals to pursue paddling education, leadership development, competition, and/or instructor certification.
ACA instructors and community leaders hosted a DEI listening session during the 2020 ACA Virtual Conference to lend their voices, ideas, and perspectives towards the ultimate goal of improving access, equity, and opportunities for paddlers in all communities. This session offered a first opportunity to join the DEI discussion.
DEI Board Committee
The DEI Board Committee is composed of ACA board members, staff, members, and experts that advise and guide DEI initiatives.
Paddle Sports Action Committee (PSAC)
This committee seeks to develop programs that support the growth of diverse, knowledgeable, and responsible paddlers who are champions for the paddling community, in addition to being advocates for clean water and public access to our waterways.
Initiatives to date:
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Program Donation Fund: Developed to support ACA’s commitment to expanding access to paddlesports. The fund aims to help remove financial barriers to participation for underrepresented groups or individuals to pursue paddling education, leadership development, competition, and/or instructor certification.
Paddlesports Leadership Academy: A program designed to train, develop, and mentor people of color as leaders, and to help them to transform their local communities and provide representation in paddlesports. These goals will be achieved through a 4-day immersive course and ongoing mentorship. The first Paddlesports Leadership Academies will be conducted in 2022.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Training: The DEI Board Committee will offer training and peer sharing opportunities to ACA leaders and members in an effort to grow a common understanding of inequity.
DEI Board Committee Contact: Risa Shimoda – firstname.lastname@example.org
Paddle Sports Action Committee (PSAC) Contact: Gerry James – email@example.com
Cover Photo Credit: Chris Farris – Team River Runner, California / American River Chapter