“Winds of Joy” Sail into Keppel Bay
Sailors with disABILITIES nationally run program, Winds of Joy, arrived into Keppel Bay Marina to host free sail training workshops for over 100 locally disadvantaged and disabled people and their careers from within region. The purposely built 52ft racing yacht, KAYLE, can carry up to 5 wheelchairs, designed to be accessible for any disabled person, and hosted the Winds of Joy program over four days, for 2 sessions per day.
In support for the program, held from 21st – 25th July, Keppel Bay Marina, the friendliest marina on the east coast, welcomed the program and students, and donated complimentary berthing to support of the not for profit organisation.
Sailors with disABILITIES organisation was formed from a fully disabled crew that entered the 50th Sydney to Hobart Race, in 1994. It was the first time in the world a fully disabled crew had sailed in an open ocean race, and from this event, Sailors with disABILITIES originated.
Twenty one years on, and SWD has a fleet of four racing yachts, and runs programs across Australia through the generosity of grants, sponsorship, volunteers and donations. The programs open up an engaging and interactive learning experience to encourage people with a disability, or those in challenging circumstances, to see themselves in a new way.
“Through sailing, people start to forget about what they can’t do, and concentrate on what they can. For some, it’s the first step towards accepting their circumstances and believing they can achieve more. By showing what’s possible, we challenge society’s perception of those facing disability or disadvantage.”
“For the kids we take out sailing, the experience might as well be a trip to the moon, because it is so far outside of their normal environment. There’s no air-conditioning, no artificial light, no noise. It’s just nature, pushing the boat along. The kids get to steer the yacht, and when it takes off in a gust and they feel the acceleration, it’s like the boat’s alive and they are riding on a dragon’s back on a sea” says SWD founder David Pescud.
Winds of Joy program offers students a chance to learn the basic sailing skills, and experiencing first-hand practical solutions to new challenges, while being in a safe, encouraging and non-comparative environment. Local schools involved included Yeppoon State High School, Rockhampton North Special School, Rockhampton Special School, The Rockhampton Grammar School, Rockhampton Special School & Coowonga State School.
“There is a lot of happiness and joy on-board the sail, today we had dolphins swimming along with us, and the kids were so excited, being out on the water really gives the kids an extra boost of confidence. It really is a rewarding and exciting sail each time”. Says Mark Good, Skipper with Sailors with disABILITIES for over 3 years.
“We always look forward to welcoming the SWD crew to Keppel Bay Marina” says Kylie Smith, General Manager “they have been coming here for years, they are a fantastic crew of sailors, and the joy on the faces of the people who get to go sailing with them is a privilege to see. We are proud to support such a worthy and heart-warming cause”