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The Bahamas and Trinidad & Tobago

Outreach in The Bahamas and Trinidad & Tobago

The opportunity to undertake an outreach certainly came very much out of the blue with a request from the PanAm Dragonboat Federation who have been involved in the establishment of the very new Bahamas Chinese Dragonboat Association (BCDBA). BCDBA have been gifted eight Dragonboats to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the Chinese-Bahamas Association. The gifted boats were due to arrive on 8 May and as part of that we were asked to be involved in an outreach clinic. We put a funding proposal and budget together and started planning this adventure.

Since preparing that first proposal we were then also asked to run an outreach clinic in Trinidad and Tobago the weekend before the Bahamas clinic. As the lead up to working through the logistics, I was on a call with The President of the PanAm Dragon Boat Federation and several medical people and cancer survivors where I presented to them about what breast cancer paddling could bring to The Bahamas and Trinidad & Tobago.

It is always important that we reach the medical profession so that they understand and support dragon boat paddling as a part of the rehabilitative journey for these survivors. Well with 6 doctors on that first call, you would say we certainly did that. We were very excited to be involved on this Zoom presentation as we looked to establish teams in these countries which would be new to the IBCPC family.

There were 50 people on the call. There is a video on You Tube of the session. It is titled Conversation with the International Breast Cancer Paddlers.

If you don't want to listen to the earlier speakers, you will find my presentation at 16.53 minutes through to 29.53.

There is over 40 minutes of really good Q&A at the end.

The time finally came to travel to the Caribbean. Travelling in this post and current Covid times is very fraught as the airlines and airports are not really ready to handle the sheer volume of travellers who are itching to get on a plane after a two-year hiatus.

Having regular and timely RAT and PCR tests and ensuring you have all the correct paperwork and health visas adds an extra layer of stress, but once in the location you are destined for that all eases away as you start to work with these survivors.

Attached is an article from the local Trinidad paper that captures our mission beautifully. We had a wonderful presentation and training days. The photos below tell the story so well. The joyous expressions were a sight to behold. We are super excited that the first team, from Trinidad and Tobago will be joining the IBCPC to make them the 35th country in our family of paddlers.

We were also thrilled with the meeting held with the T&T Ministry of Health where the Director of Health (Sport) advised that they support this initiative to get more BCS to become active. The Mental Health unit of the Ministry also sees the value of this sport in the wellbeing of survivors. The support at this level in any country is outstanding and we feel very honoured that they have embraced the ideology of IBCPC so strongly.

From Trinidad and Tobago, it was on to The Bahamas for the next leg of our journey of this outreach.

The first step was the presentation to the medical people and as we said above this is an important part of any outreach, we were absolutely blown away by the attendance of 46 medical associated people at the presentation; this included specialists, surgeons, oncologists, general practitioners, nurses, physiotherapists, and other people associated with the diagnosis and care of those diagnosed with breast cancer.

From this turnout we knew it was going to be very successful.

We realised in advance that the boats would not be available and had prepared an on-land training session for two days so that people could experience what it would be like to be in a dragon boat while learning the techniques on land.

Betty Solley had come up with a really unique idea of making fake paddles. These are made with dowel and some plumbing piping so that you simulate the effect of holding the paddle without the blade. Kay-Kay Tong the president of the Bahamas Chinese Dragonboat Association had organised some great little bright pink stools for us to use, these were just perfect. We set up a simulated boat along with a drum, which allowed us so to show exactly the technique and the training.

What a fabulous time we had with Betty, Trish, Marilyn and me along with the many attendees. We had four sessions over the weekend, one each morning and one each afternoon on both days. It was wonderful to be out in the brilliant sunshine at the stunning Margaritaville hotel complex.

I was so thrilled with the results, as were the attendees, so much so that one of the groups asked us to set a boat for them for training before they had even been on a boat. We feel that The Bahamas will be a really exciting location for future festivals. The first of these will be held on August 20th and 21st 2022 at Goodman’s’ Bay, Bahamas.

We look forward to welcoming the first team from The Bahamas and making The Bahamas our 36th country to join IBCPC.

This was a very successful outreach and reinforces to us the importance of outreach, the importance of connecting with and engaging with the medical profession and having their support to encourage the survivors to participate in exercise as part of their recovery.

Submitted by Meri Gibson