Sailors with disABILITIES


We’ve heard some outstanding stories from the John Berne School who finished their 8-week Winds of Change program on Wednesday. Run by a dedicated group of SWD volunteers, Winds of Change is designed to develop life skills like leadership, communication and teamwork, while providing a safe space in which participants can engage with volunteers.

For some, explained their teacher, it may be one of the few moments in a day they get one-on-one attention from someone who shows an interest in them.

“Even giving them a nudge and asking how are you and someone actually listening and being kind means everything to the students,” Michael Muranty, the lead teacher explained. “That’s as important to the kids as the sailing itself.”

The school has come on board for several programs in years past. This group included a few boys who'd sailed in the program in 2016. They had asked if they could come back with this group and did, indeed, join for the second half of the program

SWD spoke with some of the students on Thursday to hear their experiences.


Tristan, who is seventeen years of age, experiences literacy challenges. Since Winds of Change, however, he’s figured out what he wants to do for a career.

“I want to go into boat mechanics because I just love being around boats. I feel like I have a greater knowledge of the water. It has made me understand sailing and respect what people on sail boats are doing," Tristan said.


"My ultimate goal is, after being a boat mechanic, to work on yachts or cruise liners as a deck hand or work at a marina.”


“For me, I don’t want to work just on the engines of boats. I want to work with boats. Working on boats would be awesome but if I had the certificate for boat mechanics it would help with things like that, being a qualified boat mechanic.”


Tristan's career aspirations came about because of Winds of Change. The program also gave Tristan a love of sailing and some insightful perspective. 

“It’s really enjoyable to be out on the water because you’ve got so much freedom on the water and it’s so relaxing," Tristan said. "Another thing is you learn so many skills. I learnt a lot of different knots. And, it’s great to hear the stories of the volunteers and what they do; there’s so much experience in those guys. It’s really good fun.”


“It’s good to see everybody having a go at it. People who generally aren’t very social—you know all schools have that thing of who’s popular and who’s not—but everyone gets involved and it’s good to see everyone having a go and actually enjoying themselves.


Showing awareness and perception beyond his age, Tristan said, "Those kids who normally don’t have a voice, have something to hold onto and say, I did this with everyone. Not that they can’t do it, but everyone is equal on the water because everyone has a job to do. It brings everyone together.

"It was really good and I wish I could keep going.” 


Tristan (in blue) receives his SWD pack for finishing the Winds of Change program

John Berne School

Because Tristan is so committed and because we believe in the SWD mission to create optimism and that we're surrounded by boaty people, we thought we'd do a shout out.

If you work around boats and would be willing to host Tristan for work experience, please give us a shout at or call 0478687991. 

Watch out for more stories like this from this recent Winds of Change group.

You can help more young people have transformative experiences by donating. DONATE HERE