The Inspiration Behind The Dragon Boat Race

More than 2000 years ago, in the 4th century when China was under political conflict and rivalry, Qu Yuan, a philosopher, a poet, and also a very loyal Minister of the State was unhappy with the state affairs. He protested against the corrupt regime by jumping into the Mei Lo River.

According to legend, local fishermen, upon seeing their beloved poet’s act of courage, raced out with their boats in an attempt to save him. To their dismay, they arrived too late. To prevent his body from being eaten by the fish, they beat the waters furiously with their paddles and threw rice dumplings wrapped in silk into the river to distract the fish.

The re-enactment of the villagers racing out to save Qu Yuan has become today’s popular dragon boat race. Celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month of the Chinese calendar, dragon boat racing is not only a commemoration of Qu Yuan’s tragic death, but also one of the most important Chinese traditions and is now an annual event held in over 40 countries, including Canada.


Dragon Boat Race and Developmental Disabilities – Spirit Challenge

hvra_dragonboat-625Spirit Challenge (SC) began in 1999. The purpose of SC was to introduce the sport of Dragon Boat Racing to people with developmental/intellectual disabilities by promoting physical activity, the thrill of adventure; team spirit and competition. The Developmental Services Act defines a developmental disability as “a condition of mental impairment, present or occurring. during a person’s formative years, that is associated with limitations in adaptive behaviour.” A developmental disability is a life-long condition and can be accompanied by other physical conditions. This disability varies greatly among individuals. A person with a developmental disability may have limitations in intellectual ability and difficulties in many common daily activities or life skills, communication, learning, mobility, ability to live independently, and economic self-sufficiency.

SC teams consist of people with developmental disabilities, support staff and volunteers. There are 22 people in each boat, with 20 paddlers, a drummer and a steersperson. Volunteer paddlers and staff are situated throughout the boat to support the participants who have a disability, ensuring a fun paddling experience for all!

The participation not only provides equal access on a level playing field that is barrier free but also inclusion opportunities for youths and adults with disabilities through the thrilling competitive adventure of Dragon Boat experience. At the same time it encourages partnerships and cooperation among the community by engaging families, workers, and volunteers to experience team spirit.

The SC teams appreciate the Dominion Day Regatta Association (DDRA) that allows this inclusion opportunity, and are grateful to our proud sponsors of the teams this year: Rusty Dragons Adventures; Toronto Paragon Lions Club; and Paramount Times.

The Motto

Have Fun! Inclusion is the key.