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My paddle boarding experience
By Ashton Dunford

The picture was taken at The Spanish Oaks reservoir in Utah very close to my house. The name of the snow-capped mountain in the background is Mt. Nebo and it was actually 80 degrees that day. That’s considered warm weather here in Utah so it was a perfect day for paddle boarding. 

I think that paddle boarding is very cool and that more blind people should do it. It’s very easy to learn and once you get the hang of it, it is really fun. It is one of the most fun things to do in the summer. I like it because it is a fun way to see nature and relax. Nature feels like wide open spaces when I’m on the water. I enjoy just being there in the water and feeling the breeze.

Being blind has sometimes given me anxiety when trying new things because I don’t know if I am going to fall off the board or if the water is really deep. I like to deep-breathe and pretend like I’m not scared, and I tell myself it’s okay when I feel anxious. When I get to the board I climb on it and sit down. I like to hold onto the board handles to feel safe. But I’m always glad when my dad and I get out there on the water on my paddle board. 

I like paddle boarding because I like to imagine I’m in different parts of the world when I’m on the water – pretending I’m there right now. I imagine Peru, Costa Rica, Honduras, Argentina and so many other places. Peru is one of my favorite places because my mom grew up there and I feel a connection to it. 

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Eleven-year-old Ashton Dunford lives in Utah. He loves skateboarding, skiing and cycling. His message is simple: blind children are just capable as sighted children. Find Ashton and his mom Hilda on Instagram @ourblindside and read more about him here [https://joom.ag/L26d/p12] and here [ https://joom.ag/LQ9d/p36 ]

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