How paddleboarding is being used to support mental health

Paddleboarding and kayaking are popular summer sports along the Lakeshore. Growing research suggests that doing activities involving water is not only good for physical health but mental health as well.

That proven scientific evidence known as Blue Mind Theory has found that people fall into a mildly mediative state when they are near, in, under or on water. 

Understanding that connection, the Muskegon Lakeshore Paddle Club (MLPC) is inviting people to enjoy a popular water sport while supporting mental health programs.

The Mona Lake Paddle Race features 5K and 10K distances.

After the success of the inaugural Mona Lake Paddle Race last year, MLPC is hosting the second annual event on Saturday, June 11, at Ross Park, 82 Randall Road in Norton Shores.

Proceeds from the 2022 Mona Lake Paddle Race will once again benefit the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan, as well as the Midwest Paddle League and USA SUP (USA Stand Up Paddleboarding).

“We established the Muskegon Lakeshore Paddle Club as a way to bring the sport of paddle racing to the beautiful shores of West Michigan while raising money for important local causes like mental health and to support the economic development of our Lakeshore region,” says Ryan Bryker, co-founder of the Muskegon Lakeshore Paddle Club.

Prizes and clinics

This year’s Mona Lake Paddle Race features 5K and 10K distances with cash prizes and paddle trophies custom-made by Little Bay Boards, plus a recreation race. MLPC will give away one recreational stand-up paddleboard to a recreation race participant. Those taking part in the 5K and 10K races will earn points for the Midwest Paddle League, and those in the 10K will earn points for USA SUP

The Mona Lake Paddle Race is held in Ross Park in Norton Shores

New for 2022, Kattie Carpenter, owner of Beyond Tri coaching and training, will host two SUP clinics at Ross Park. The first clinic on Thursday, June 9, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., will provide paddlers with last-minute tips and tricks before Saturday’s race. The second clinic will immediately follow the Mona Lake Paddle Race. Both clinics are for beginner to intermediate paddlers who are looking to improve their speed and technique on the water.  

“Stand-up paddleboarders and kayakers of all skill and experience levels are welcome to join us,” Bryker says. “We’re proud to provide a family-friendly event for racers and spectators alike.”

Spectators can view the entire racecourse from shore. The event will feature the Around Baking Company food truck, as well as merchandise and information about the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan, Midwest Paddle League, and USA SUP. 

“Outdoor activities and relationships are two critical components in supporting mental health and suicide prevention,” says Christy Buck, executive director of the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan. “When it comes to mental health, knowledge creates the confidence to take action, and we are grateful for our partnership with the Muskegon Lakeshore Paddle Club and the platform they provide to educate community members.”

Registration and check-in

Race registration includes an athletic shirt and a food voucher for the Around Baking Company food truck. The first 50 registrants will receive a limited edition MLPC USA SUP hat. 

Athlete check-in begins at 7:30 a.m. June 11 with a mandatory race briefing at 8:30 a.m. The 5K and 10K races will begin at approximately 9 a.m., and the recreation race starts at 11 a.m. An awards ceremony will follow.

Race registration must be completed prior to June 10 via For additional race, sponsorship, and volunteer information, visit

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Read more articles by Shandra Martinez.