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News - Latest News
30 Jun 2014


Sailability SHSC Smiles

Staunton Harold SC has teamed up with Derby charity, Umbrella, to give children and young people with disabilities the chance to experience the joys of getting out on the water and learning to sailing.

No fewer than 22 Umbrella youngsters, boys and girls aged between eight and 17, took part in Staunton Harold’s first Sailability Day on 7 June, with the next day on 19 July already fully booked up! Umbrella works to support disabled children, young people and their families, helping them to realise their potential and transform lives.

All the youngsters had behavioural or learning difficulties or physical disabilities, including one wheelchair user, and all were escorted by parents or carers as they went afloat with the club’s experienced RYA instructors and pulled ropes to control the two sails while some had a go at steering the boat too.

Meanwhile there was also an Optimist dinghy – the most popular boat sailed by juniors worldwide, including Sir Ben Ainslie in his early years – ready and rigged on the shore so that the youngsters could see what they could progress to in the future.

Staunton Harold has traditionally held an annual Sailability Day early every summer, which is well supported by the local disabled community, carers and club volunteers. But such was the popularity of that day, the club wanted to provide more regular disabled sailing opportunities at the reservoir.

Staunton Harold SC Sailability co-ordinator, Kevin Needham, led on organising the new Sailability Days, with four planned throughout June, July and August. He admits they are delighted with the enthusiasm for the sessions.

Kevin said: "There is a need to provide a more regular opportunity for the local disabled community to benefit from the whole sailing experience. These new sessions provide training for those who wish to learn, and a sensory experience for those with more severe learning or physical disabilities. Sailing can be a challenge or something that can just be enjoyed for what it is, and it is very inclusive once on the water."

"We had five boats on the water, with eight club volunteers helping. The feedback was very positive and the overall impression was it was a brilliant start, with both students and volunteers leaving feeling very encouraged. Sailability is about what you can do not what you can’t and the Umbrella youngsters proved it."

Nicola Green, Children's Services Coordinator for Derby and Derbyshire Umbrella, worked with Staunton Harold on co-ordinating the Sailability Days.

She added: "Children with disabilities need to be given the opportunity to take part in all activities and sports, which isn’t always possible in a mainstream club or group due to the level of support the children need. Having the opportunity to attend these specialist sailing sessions is fantastic for the children and young people."

"The support and encouragement all the instructors gave the children was excellent and I’ve had nothing but positive comments from the children and parents that attended the first one. All that attended enjoyed it and will be coming along to the next session."

Staunton Harold is already looking at how to progress the sessions, and make them even more accessible, with borrowing Access 303 dinghies, designed especially for people with disabilities, one possibility being explored for one-to-one teaching.

The sessions are being run at the same time as main club activities to really promote the inclusive ethos of Sailability, and so that each of the groups - existing club members and Sailability sailors - can see what the other is achieving.

The sessions run on Saturdays and Sundays to provide sailors with a weekend option to get afloat. The three remaining sessions take place on Saturday 19 July, Saturday 16 August and Sunday 24 August.