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The Vision of Sailors with disAbilities (SWD) is ‘building optimism among disabled and disadvantaged people through the medium of sailing’. In order to achieve this vision our volunteers have to be the backbone of our organisation.
No story could fit that Vision more fittingly than this account of a volunteer who credits SWD with inspiring her to overcome her own adversity.
This is the incredible story of Kristi Foster.
Next week, Kayle and a crew of SWD volunteers are heading north to Queensland and northern NSW to run Winds of Joy for over 500 children with disabilities over the next two months. Winds of Joy gives children and youth with disabilities, who may otherwise never experience the thrill of sailing, the opportunity to spend a day aboard 54-foot Sydney-Hobart racing yacht, Kayle.
Seventeen-year-old Aiden struggled with motivation in life and at school before Winds of Change. “I would just give up on things that were too hard and I wasn’t much of a talker,” Aiden says. When he came on board for Winds of Change, however, everything changed. The eight-week program helped Aiden believe that he can ‘take charge’ of his life and make changes. This is his story.
We chatted with SWD Founder, David Pescud, earlier this week about what's happening in SWD now and the outlook for the next few months.
"This Wednesday, we had so many enthusiastic guests and volunteers on board," he said. "We had a great guest sail and really enjoyed seeing new potential volunteers getting to know the boat, Kayle, and each other..."
With spring fast approaching, it’s exciting to see we have more members joining SWD. What a wonderful time of year for sailing and to be chatting to colleagues and friends about the impact and fun they could have as a volunteer helping the amazing children we welcome on board each week.
When SWD caught up with students from Lake Illawarra High School's Winds of Change program, six months after it finished, we learned that it is making a significant difference in the lives of students from that cohort.
This is most likely because Winds of Change creates a safe space for engagement and teamwork. Skye's story helps answer the question, Do SWD's Programs Really Make a Difference?
This short video shows the magic that happened when the Windgap Foundation Carers group sang song and harmonies from Fiji on a Winds of Care Day in Sydney. Listen for the "Rushcutters Bay..." at the end.
Winds of Care is a day of respite, fun and care for carers of people with disabilities or for those who care for people who may be ill sailing on board one of SWD's boats.
SWD's Volunteer Coordinator, Alyson Wardle, and Programs Coordinator, Emma Norris, attended Volunteering NSW's State Conference in early June. As a volunteer-led organisation, in which volunteers give over 5000 hours of time annually, it's crucial to be aware of changes and innovations within volunteerism in NSW so that SWD can strive to better serve volunteers.
SWD spoke to teachers from schools across Melbourne in the past few weeks to learn about the students' experiences. Wendy, a teacher from Warringa Park School, said:
“I had a few scared students. They were scared that the boat was going to roll over! At the end of the experience, the scared ones were getting up and steering the boat and some went to the front of the boat and sat with the other students, something they would never do!"
On the final day of our Hobart Outreach program in February, we welcomed Anglicare and Taroona High School on board. Winds of Joy lets students experience nature in a context from which they may often be excluded. Everyone on board gets to feel the wind on their face and the motion the boat rolling on the waves. For sensory positive students in particular, this is a special delight.
Melbourne held their inaugural Winds of Care day on Sunday April 30th. We received this wonderful message from a participant who experienced the day.
“What a day! I came extremely nervous of sailing as I can’t swim and hate looking down into water. It isa very real fear and I wasn't sure I was going to get on the boat. Can I please say what a fantastic and supportive crew were on board - amazing people and I take my hats off to each and every one of you for the kindness that you show to people - to our children when they sail and for giving up a sleep in on a Sunday.
Meet Aggie (click the link to watch). She can't see or speak and she's loving the wind and sunshine on her face on board Kayle. Aggie sailed on Monday in Winds of Joy in Sydney, a program for children with disabilities. Please help more children like Aggie by donating here: https://payment.securepage.com.au/swd/donate.php
In Sydney, last Sunday One Door Mental Health came on board for Winds of Care in Sydney.
The day was full of young carers having a go at sailing and taking time out for themselves.
Winds of Care Days are a chance for the amazing mums, dads, grandparents, guardians, brothers, sisters, friends and others who care for disabled and disadvantaged people to take a bit of time out for themselves.
Volunteer Interview Ruth Lilian OAM: Meet our volunteer, Ruth Lilian OAM, helping you on your journey to membership and volunteering with SWD. What was your motivation for volunteering with SWD? I was looking at all the organisations that might interest me and through Volunteering NSW I saw the call for volunteers for SWD.
We are grateful to Women Who Sail Australia for choosing SWD as one of the charities for funds raised at the April Gathering on the Bay conference in Port Stephens. We chatted to Women Who Sail Australia (WWSA) spokeswoman Caitlin Harris who said, "WWSA's mission is to connect women on the water. Our goal is to create communities, empower women, and encourage a love of sailing and respect for the ocean environment. Supporting SWD is part of our vision to create inclusive communities and make sailing accessible and welcoming to everyone."
Greg was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis a few days before Christmas, 2008. He soon lost his job and his marriage, experiencing some truly harrowing emotions and entering a bleak period in his life, marred with uncertainty.
“I was essentially sitting on the couch every day, not doing anything,” said Greg.
However, in 2014, Greg made a decision that would transform his life.
The John Berne School has a long and rich history with SWD and the Winds of Change program. Groups from the school have come on board in 2015, 2016 and 2017 for the 8-week sailing and leadership program for children who experience adversity.
Two weeks ago, the skipper on Winds of Change gave his iPhone over to the students so they could tell you about the program from their perspective...
Beginner volunteer sailors often relate well with many of the first-time student sailors. They experience the same curiosity and hesitation as the students—they’re “in the same boat” metaphorically and literally (pun intended)—and they form a bond from the shared experience of overcoming nerves and fears together.
Eddy Borg is one such volunteer. Eddy had no experience on a yacht when he started volunteering with SWD.
“I felt intimidated to rock up at a sailing club as a novice volunteer sailor,” he said. “But volunteering enables me to learn a new skill and bringing joy to others is my main goal. The smiles and laughter I’ve seen on the students’ faces is priceless—that’s an acknowledgement that you’ve succeeded.”
Tristan explained that the Winds of Change program helped him figure out what he wants to do for a career. After Winds of Change last year he realised he wanted to work with his hands and he wanted it to be on boats. Together with his teacher, they identified pathways and courses. He came back this time for a few weeks and yesterday he shared his hopes for his career.
SWD got involved in activities around the Australian Women’s Keelboat Regatta which is run by the Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron (RMYS). SWD is the charity of choice for the RMYS and the AWKR, thanks to the efforts of several SWD Melbourne volunteers and staff. SWD volunteer Kristi Foster sailed in the regatta and was a guest speaker for SWD at the Saturday evening’s dinner.
“I spoke about what SWD has done for me and how it’s impacted my life, giving me so many opportunities,” Kristi, who broke her back when she was 21, explained.
He’s volunteered with SWD. He’s learning archery. And now there’s just one SWD volunteer who can say they chatted with Ian Thorpe for ten minutes and then waited with “Thorpy” to meet Prince Harry last week—and then shook Prince Harry’s hand and chatted with him, not to mention meeting the Prime Minister, who is a patron of SWD.
It was the hard launch of the Invictus Games last week in Sydney—the 500 day countdown—and SWD volunteer, Dave Condon of Hobart, was in the pouring rain at Government House in Sydney with Invictus hopefuls from across Australia.
On Sunday, June 25, SWD raced in the Cruising Yacht Club Of Australia Winter Series aboard WOT EVA and came second in Division 1. Among our crew were regulars, including volunteers with disabilities which range from MS and Spina Bifida to blindness and dyslexia, and two students who finished the 8-week Winds of Change program with us in December 2016.
Last Thursday, June 22, Mary MacKillop Outreach (MMO) program, run by St Vincent de Paul Society, sailed on Sydney Harbour in Winds of Joy for people with disabilities. Alice and Tanya from the Office of The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP, Prime Minister & Member for Wentworth, who is a patron of SWD, joined us.
“We were very impressed by the work of SWD..."
We caught up with Celia Dymond and some of the SWD volunteer team who helped at the Australian Women's Keelboat Regatta over the June long weekend in Melbourne. We thank all SWD volunteers for their incredible efforts in making this happen.
“It was really fab to have SWD out on Ninety Seven for the event," Celia said. "We could see the boat bobbing about all weekend with the big ‘I can.’ on the side. After that, people were really interested in supporting SWD at our charity fundraiser."
A most remarkable outcome from last week's Winds of Joy program is that Rory, who has sailed in Winds of Joy before, asked the Skipper if he can become an SWD volunteer in the next few months. If he does, Rory will be the first Winds of Joy participant to become an onwater SWD volunteer. We’re now working towards welcoming Rory into our volunteer family later in the year.
Thank you for visiting our website. We are excited to share storiesof success about our volunteers and people with disabilities.
Please DONATE HERE.
Grace Kennedy was born with Spina Bifida and has been confined to a wheelchair all her life. In 2013, at the tender age of 19, she crewed in one of the world's toughest ocean races - the Rolex Sydney to Hobart. Here's Grace's story in her own words. Read about Grace's
We LOVED having Southern Support School in our Winds of Joy sailing program in Hobart. The photos say it all. Winds of Joy is a sailing program in which young people with disabilities experience sailing for 3 hours in a safe space. Students gain skills—knot tying, tacking, and steering the boat—and work as a team to sail and take responsibility. This gives students a chance to show their abilities and grow with their peers, creating increased confidence and self belief even after they get back home and school.
The sun shone on Melbourne on February 27 when students and teachers from Sunshine and Springvale Park Special Developmental Schools sailed in a Winds Of Joy Program in Melbourne. The students got stuck into winching and steering and gaining a whole lot of confidence from being part of a team sailing on a large yacht on the Yarra...
Across Melbourne, Hobart and Sydney on Feb 21, SWD volunteers ran 5 Winds of Joy programs, welcoming over 50 children with disabilities, their parents, teachers and carers on board three specially adapted yachts. This included St Ives High School in Sydney, Montagu Bay Primary in Hobart, Waringah Park School in Melbourne, Springvale Park SDS Mel, and Wairoa in Sydney. It was a spectacular success and, as you can see, the weather was kind across all three citiies, something of a miracle at this time of year. What has become clear is that students LOVE steering and grow in confidence when they do, taking on new challenges when they get back home and to school.
Businesses, NGOs, community groups and volunteers from across Sydney gathered at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia on Friday March 10 for the Sailors with disABILITIES inaugural #MakingWaves Regatta, the first regatta held by SWD in its 23 year history. Aiming to raise essential funds for children with disability and those who face adversity across Australia, the regatta included a dozen yachts donated by their owners and purchased by companies.
We wish to thank the Cruising Yacht Club Of Australia who partnered with SWD and allowed us to host the Regatta in the club at Rushcutters Bay on March 10. We wish to thank yacht owners who donated their boats to be hired by companies that raced on board on the day.
We launch our inaugural Making Waves Regatta on Friday, March 10, from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia at New Beach Road, Darling Point.
The Regatta will raise essential funds for children with disability and those who face adversity across Australia, adding to the 44,000 children who have come on board SWD programs over the past 23 years.
Famous ocean racers and more than 200 professionals...
We celebrated the contribution of SWD's female volunteers for International Women's Day on March 8. In her own words, Julia explained why she volunteers with SWD: "Volunteering with SWD reminds me there is always a way. Never say, 'I can't.' SWD inspires us all to say, 'I can.' Everyone I meet through SWD inspires me, but my favourite thing is seeing the kids' faces light up when they realise they can too. It brings me joy."
SWD was excited to see people with disabilities (who happen to be sailors) and sailors (disabled and able-bodied both) making waves at the NSW Sports Awards. Congratulations to our own SWD Founder, David Pescud, for receiving the Distinguished Long Service Award for his 24-year contribution to Sailors with disABILITIES. Pescud was in great company for the evening's recognition of sporting achievements in NSW.
"Yesterday, we participated in the Sailors with disABILITIES Winds of Joy program in Melbourne. We were a group of 9 students and 5 staff from Yarrabah School. We would like to send a HUGE THANK YOU to our fantastic crew, Paul, Jeff, Simon, Cameron, Judi, Lisa and shore-based, Richard."
SWD was excited to host ABC News Tasmania on board WOT EVA on the 16th of February in Hobart. Thank you ABC News 24, ABC News Tasmania in Hobart for telling the story of these amazing children and volunteers sailing in the 2017 Winds of Joy Hobart Outreach Program. This program will run until 28 February and we will return next year to Hobart and run the program again.
Launching today, ten schools and over 250 children with disabilities will take part in our annual Hobart Outreach Program. This is the second year it has been held, with WOT EVA carrying children in wheelchairs. All children have a chance to steer the boat, wind the winches, help lift and lower the sails.
SWD founder David Pescud says this is often a once in a lifetime experience for these children.
This year is the 31st running of the Land Rover Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race.The race starts tomorrow, Saturday, 30 July, on Sydney Harbour at 1pm and Sailors with disABILITIES will be racing with a full crew of people with disabilities and able-bodied people on WOT EVA.
"They loved it. It allowed the frightened children to push themselves in a nurturing environment. They didn't see crew as people with disabilities and they don't see themselves as people with disabilities. It was nice for them to see people with disabilities doing exciting stuff and for that to be normal. It was very empowering."
SWD launches its Northern Campaign on July 21, an outreach program for children with disabilities. This is an annual effort that takes the yacht, Kayle, and SWD volunteers who crew it from Sydney to Rosslyn Bay, Mackay, Southport and Coffs Harbour during the next 8 weeks. Called Winds of Joy, SWD runs this same program every year, as we have for over 18 years.
In our August news you'll read about volunteer awards shortlist nominees, interviews with volunteers, Sydney to Gold Coast Yacht Race story, ASX Thomson Reuters Charity Foundation partnership and winning NSW Minister's Volunteer Management Award for a state sporting organisation.
The 2017 Australian of the Year (centre) is an incredible individual whose scientific research has helped restore mobility in a quadriplegic man in Australia. Professor Alan Mackay-Sim, a biomecular scientist, was named Australian of the Year on January 25 at an event at Parliament House in Canberra for his life work researching stem cells. His research has led to world-first treatment of spinal cord injuries.
We wish to thank everyone who donated to our appeal to fix Kayle's keel. All donations, large and small, contributed to an excellent outcome for SWD and will mean we can run programs for children again as soon as possible and, hopefully, join the Rolex Sydney to Hobart Race at the end of 2017.
To celebrate the first Winds of Joy sailing program for children with disability in Hobart, a major milestone in the history of the organisation, today Sailors with disABILITITES is launching a unique, digital archive of its first 21 years: 21 Years of SWD.
Sailors with disABILITIES embarks on its 22nd Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race on Boxing Day. The crew of 16 on Kayle, skippered by John Whitfeld, trained throughout 2015 under John's skilful and encouraging guidance. According to the official race site, "the 628 nautical mile course is often described as the most gruelling long ocean race in the world, a challenge to everyone who takes part."
After a hard campaign, we have almost reached our goal of raising $1500 through the Bendigo Bank's Let's Act initiative.
We are currently sitting on $1094, just $406 away from getting over the line. We know that our supporters believe strongly in our mission, so we are asking that everyone show that support by sharing the link to our project, spreading the word with their friends, or even providing just a gold coin donation themselves by jumping onto the Let's Act website!...
SWD wishes to thank you for your support for the SWD crew in the Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race (RSHYR) from the 26th – 30th December, 2015. Words of encouragement expressed in emails, messages, phone calls, and comments, likes, and shares on social media to SWD has been incredible and unprecedented.
This experience has been a wonderful for the kids from our school. Traditionally they’re very afraid to challenge themselves for fear of failure. I cannot believe how willing they’ve been to meet this challenge head on and it’s corresponding to different areas of their lives.
SWD is excited to announce that we have a permanent office for the first time since the organisation was established 22 years ago, thanks to d’Alboras Marinas. The office, located at 1B New Beach Road, Rushcutters Bay, will be staffed most of the time throughout the week by SWD staff and volunteers.
Sean has a pretty difficult home life and has traditionally had a lot of anger problems. He’s developed control and learned so much about himself since Winds of Change. He is walking away from situations that he would have taken on head on—confrontations...
The highly coveted Australian Wooden Boat Festival returned to Hobart on the 6th of February. The Wooden Boat Show helped us build relationships, partnerships, school connections and volunteers to help us bring the Hobart Outreach Program to reality after the Sydney to Hobart this year.
As of today, our very first crowdfunding campaign, run through a partnership with Bendigo Bank's Let's Act initiative, has been successful! When we set out to fund a Try Sail Day to take a group of children out onto the harbour, we were hopeful that the generous support of our followers, fans and friends would be enough to reach our goal; we are thrilled that we exceeded that goal and have raised over 140% of our crowdfunding amount, meaning that we will recieve the pledged funds and we will have the chance to create new opportunities.
We wish to thank everyone who contributed, whether through making a donation or sharing information on our campaign. You are the true strength of SWD, and we can't overstate our appreciation!
With the 2014 Sydney Hobart Race behind us, we are starting to enjoy the amazing photos, videos and content created by our intrepid crew throughout the voyage! We'll be posting these more and more as soon as we get them, but for now the star of the show is crew member Brett Whiteley's Go Pro Camera, which captured some incredible visuals of the race and the people who got us out there!
Check them out after the jump, and as always we'd love to hear your thoughts!
We need to raise $12,000 to fix the keel on our main program boat, Kayle, and we are hoping you may be willing to help us do that. Kayle runs Winds of Joy and Winds of Change programs in Sydney, northern NSW, Queensland and Hobart for over 2100 children each year.
"The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) is pleased to announce Sailors with disAbilities (SWD) has been officially endorsed as a preferred charity of the Club. While the CYCA and SWD have had an informal relationship of support for many years, the official partnership provides SWD with guaranteed resources and assistance which will give stronger foundations to its programs and planning."
Verney Road School traveled to Sydney by bus and plane and stayed for a week during which they came on board SWD Sydney’s Winds of Joy program. Daniel got into everything from steering to bow work, including furling the head sail. He really did a great job on the boat from bow to stern.
Would you be willing to help SWD win $10k in cash and $15k in audio and video conferencing? The cash will help us run more programs for children with disabilities, and conferencing will help us communicate with schools and volunteers across NSW, Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania.
Postgraduate Physiotherapy students from the University of Melbourne, in partnership with SWD, this year completed a community health project conducting a health needs analysis (HNA) of SWD's “Winds Of Change” on-water program.
This interaction [on Winds of Joy] with school support staff was very positive and allowed staff to continue to build a relationship based on trust, security and understanding that has continued all year. She has been at school every day since and has now become a valuable mentor to two other students with disability. Sailing allowed her to succeed and also to feel valued.
Xylem Australia, a key sponsor of SWD, came on board twice this December and new and old faces and friends at Xylem experienced SWD’s work first hand. Xylem’s support is having a direct impact on making Australia a better place for its youth. This year alone SWD worked with over 2,231 children in its Winds of Joy programs across Australia.
SWD is proud to announce its 2016/2017 partnership with the ASX Thomson Reuters Charity Foundation. As part of this, SWD will be the recipient of funds raised in the Foundation's Art Union draw. You can buy tickets to win great prizes in the draw here: click here to go to SWD's official prize page.
Early March, SWD travelled to Melbourne to engage and interact with some exciting new people and meet some new faces. Along with making some strong connections, the team has been running pilot programs aboard the yacht, Kayle, for Victoria’s many extraordinary children.
The trip has been a long time coming, with many schools from Melbourne expressing interest in climbing aboard. This promptedSwd volunteers and crew to travel to Melbourne and run programs for three weeks, with the hope of establishing a permanent presence in our new base at Port Phillip.
We need you! Sailors With disABILITIES will be back in Hobart in 2017 running Winds of Joy programs from 15th-28th February. This program offers children with disabilities and disadvantaged people an opportunity to enjoy the freedom, teamwork and adventure of sailing.
At 11:52:22 on 2 August, the SWD crew on WOT EVA finished the Land Rover Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race in 22nd position overall and 8th on PHS. It was an achievement to finish.
Sailors with disABILITIES is launching its first Winds of Joy program in Hobart tomorrow, Monday 15th of February. Running for two weeks until February 26, Winds of Joy Hobart will give young people with disability in Tasmania the opportunity to experience the joy of sailing in a session sailing on board Kayle, a yacht designed especially for people with disabilities, able to accommodate up to 5 wheelchairs at a time.