Rafting can represent an incredible tool for the development of the active basis of all paddle-sports, from flat-water to canoe-polo.
It is safe, it is based on small and manageable and teams, it is relatively cheap.
These characteristics are to be considered relevant for both the grassroots level and the sport for all level. As a sport for all, rafting can be practiced without a special experience and that is a way to involve more people in the paddle sport activities.
The catchment area of potential rafters does not constitute a competitor for the other ICF disciplines: on the contrary, it can be a complementary activity. In fact, rafting is not only a whitewater experience. In the last years the diversification of tracks has open up new horizons: urban rivers and, more generally, flatwater rivers represent the perfect scenery for the first paddle sport experience. Thanks to this, rafting represents an accessible introduction for anyone into all ICF disciplines, from flat-water to canoe-polo
Furthermore, rafting as a team sport, is increasingly used by schools and companies: the management of the group dynamics and the team balance, whether it aims at achieving sport or social goals, is the way to co-opt into water experience an important number of people from the educational and labour sector. The World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines regarding sport activities and their social impact laid down in the Council of the European Union’s Recommendations 15575/13 on promoting health-enhancing physical activity across sectors (HEPA), find in rafting a complete fulfilment: rafting is a tool of inclusion and overco- ming differences.
Physical activity, as recommended by the WHO, is important for all age groups, and has particular relevance for children, the working population and the elderly. Being it a prerequisite for a healthy lifestyle and a healthy workforce, it contributes to the achievement of key objectives defined in the Europe 2020 Strategy, notably with regard to growth, productivity and health .
In this respect, the Italian Rafting Federation has taken part in an important initiative aiming at encouraging the development and implementation of effective HEPA policies, developing some special educational pathways for teachers and coaches.
Different projects have been realised with schools in order to introduce kids to rafting, not only as a recreational and cultural activity, but especially in order to fight physical inactivity and the sedentary behaviours. Physical education at school has the potential to be an effective tool to increase awareness of the importance of HEPA, and schools can be easily and effectively targeted to implement activities in this regard.
Furthermore, rafting as outdoor sport, also represents a tool to raise awareness on environmental issues. The main activity with schools is practiced on river of Class II (flatwater and urban rivers) where the students can rediscover their city’s history and can get awareness of the conditions of the local rivers. The Italian experience shows that the number of rafters is increasing because of the involvement of schools and the organisation of national school championships.