THE IMPORTANCE OF DRAGON BOATING

DIVERSITY, INCLUSION, HEALTH, LOWERING BARRIERS OF ACCESS TO COMPETITIVE AND RECREATIONAL SPORT.

Dragon Boat boating photo 2 by Deborah H

Dragon boating welcomes all ages and fitness levels, making it an inclusive way for communities to have fun and promote active living while simultaneously offering training opportunities for regional, national, and international competition.

Dragon boating is a sport noted among paddle sports for its diversity, equity, and inclusion and has decreased barriers to access that have historically discouraged or prevented marginalized community members and communities of color from participating in other paddle sports recreationally and competitively.  

Dragon Boat Racing is the fastest growing water sport activity in the world today.

  • Dragon boating originated in China over 2,400 years ago and may be the world’s oldest surviving team sport

  • Over 2,000,000 people world-wide participate in Dragon Boat Festivals and events

  • Participants are 60% men, 40% women and range in age from 12 to 80+ years old

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502 DRAGON BOATING IS:

WELCOMING TO THOSE OF DIFFERING PHYSICAL ABILITY: Dragon boating is not an individual sport; success hinges on the ability of the team of 22 people (20 paddles, drummer, steersperson) working together. This makes it a particularly welcoming sport for those of varying physical ability and fitness level; there is room on the boat for everyone. There are nationally and internationally competing adaptive paddling teams as well.  

A CONSCIOUSLY INCLUSIVE PADDLING COMMUNITY: The 502 Dragon Boat Community is firmly committed to expanding access to paddlesports, removing financial barriers to participation for underrepresented groups or individuals to pursue paddling education, leadership development, competition, and/or instructor certification. 502 Dragon Boat Community board member Gerry Seavo James adds, “We need to work hard to make these environments more inclusive and we need to work hard to make these environments feel safe.” 

WELCOMING ACROSS ECONOMIC STATUS: As there is no economic barrier to entry--you don’t have to buy equipment to participate as the club provides paddles, safety gear, boat--this sport is welcoming to low-income participants. At the same time, the sport attracts more economically-advantaged participants who are traditionally drawn to paddle sports. This creates a diverse mix of socio-economic status within any given team or practice group! 

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WELCOMING TO DIFFERENT AGE GROUPS: As there are different competition classes nationally and internationally, any participant from age 12 up can aspire to serious competition. Many local teams and practice groups have a mix of ages on the boat together, making this a family friendly sport as well. As success hinges on teamwork and not individual fitness, the sport is attractive to seniors as well (yes, those stories you heard about 100+ year old dragon boat team members are TRUE!).

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PROVEN TO IMPROVE THE HOLISTIC HEALTH OF PARTICIPANTS: Studies show dragon boating has a significant positive impact on participants’ reported quality of life, mood, self-esteem, perceived stress, body image, and depressive symptoms. Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being rather than merely the absence of disease or infirmity, and dragon boating offers opportunities to improve all areas of participants’ health.

CONNECTED TO THE HEALING POWER OF NATURE: As dragon boating is an outdoor activity, it brings participants into direct contact with natural settings. Studies show that exposure to and experience in nature is healing--helping mend emotional injuries, increasing understanding of self and others, developing capacities for self-reflection, increasing overall health, and altering behaviors and thinking patterns.