When it comes to fulfilling a wish, there are no barriers or differences, especially if there are many dreams behind it. And having a disability or being a person with functional diversity is never an impediment to making them come true.
Paragliding is the dream of many of these people, and since 2016 Roberto Machín Casañas, director of the Parafest festival in Los Realejos, and his team have ensured that they can achieve it.
In addition to promoting one of the most exclusive and differential disciplines of the royal active tourism offer, such as paragliding, this event has an inclusive component, which is to take people with visual, hearing, intellectual, in wheelchairs, or with mobility problems, carrying out tandem flights, a unique experience for both the pilots and their companions, which is also giving excellent results in young people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), says Roberto, who joins his passion for this sport to his job as a Special Education teacher.
Participating in Parafest without barriers does not require any requirements but it does require prior preparation. They explain to the people who are going to fly what the activity consists of with visual aids, although adaptations are made according to the needs of each one because they are all different. The associations Afanes Canarias, Activoz, Probosco, CEIP Campino, Autismo Tenerife, Athletes Without Borders, Visión Azul Autismo and Pichón Trail, lend a hand in this regard, because they also work hard the days before.
“There are four guidelines that must be followed on the flight, but above all be very calm and enjoy the activity,” says Roberto.
Likewise, the pilots receive instructions on how they have to adapt the material and the route and must have certain skills, not only with the paraglider, but that “touch” with people. The Canarian Air Sports Federation organizes a course in which they are taught some of the situations they may face in order to resolve them properly.
Yesterday, it was planned that some thirty participants could participate from the area of La Corona, where the takeoff takes place. In the end there were much fewer because the ideal weather conditions were not there, mainly the lack of wind so they could fly in tandem, which is the formula in which people with functional diversity participate in the Parafest without barriers.
The take-off place is ideal due to the weather conditions, the orographic characteristics and the orientation of the winds, which allows, at the same time, to have a flight without incidents, play with the clouds and enjoy the landscape.
The participants who were able to fly, already late in the afternoon, gradually prepared themselves. Two pilots assisted the passenger during the inflation of the wing and the takeoff run, and a different one was the flight companion. Using these personal resources is essential to provide them with the security and confidence they need and put aside the barriers to start flying.
The arrival took place at the municipal paragliding landing strip at Finca El Quinto, specially equipped for this purpose and with a shorter route than El Socorro beach, where, in addition, in the summer months a lot of people gather and the landings are restricted for security reasons.
The best summary of the experience is reflected in the faces of the participants, their families and the public, when they see them take off and then touch the ground with their feet.