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Outrigger paddling adventure lets adults of all abilities ‘come out and play’

Suited up in life jackets and with paddles in hand, clients served by the Costa Mesa nonprofit Project Independence hit the waters of Upper Newport Bay Thursday in outrigger canoes in search of a high seas adventure.

About 20 adventurers — many of whom participate in local programs aimed at giving adults with developmental disabilities opportunities to live, work and flourish — showed up ready to make waves at the Newport Aquatic Center.

They were treated to free use of equipment and boats provided by the Makapo Aquatics Project, which offers lessons and activities at the center tailor-made for people of any ability in a safe and friendly environment.

“Everyone is at a specific part of their journey in dealing with their disability. That’s why it’s good for people to come out and show you what’s possible,” said RJ De Rama, who founded Makapo in 2007 for blind individuals after losing his sight three years earlier. The group later widened its scope to people with other disabilities.

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