Sailors with disABILITIES

Taking Charge with Aiden

This is an excerpt from a longer story about how SWD's Winds of Change program helped Aiden.

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, reflecting on his past self when we caught up with him six months after Winds of Change finished.

 

 “Before, I was so reluctant to get things done. I used to say, ‘No, I’ll do it later, I’ll do it later,’ and I just didn’t do it.’”

Since he came on board the eight-week Winds of Change program in late 2016, one of the biggest changes for Aiden is his new-found take-charge attitude. Although sailing is unpredictable, what struck Aiden about his sailing experience is how he and what he felt on board.

“I felt in control on the boat. It’s good to feel in control of it because when you’re doing all the other things in life, you’re not,” he said. “And, in school, you get told what to do. But on the boat, you’re in control of it.”

Since Winds of Change, Aiden has felt more able to take charge in his own life. He’s one of a few students who chose to return and sail with SWD on Sundays in winter, months after his program finished.

“I’ve just grabbed it and ran with it,” he said, of the opportunity to join the crew on Sunday races.

It wasn’t easy for Aiden so his teachers helped him figure out transport to get up to Sydney.

Now, six months later, Aiden talks of responsibility and valuing other people’s possessions.

“I just think about everything,” he said, when asked what he valued most about Winds of Change. “I think about costs and maintenance and the work in using the boat and I put it all together and I see it is important, it’s a massive thing. If it’s anything precious or valuable, someone always should look after it. I want to make sure I look after it and I’m responsible with it.”

Aiden gets involved in all aspects of helping on the boat and he’s getting to know volunteers like James Hunter, who’s legally blind.

“When we see new people on the boat it is a bit intimidating but after a while you just start talking. It’s just normal. It’s so cool that James can do everything on the boat and he just does it.”

These experiences have combined to help Aiden feel like he can ‘take charge and do it’, too.

 “I’ve never ever called up anyone to fix something. But I just got a bank card for the first time, ever, and I had to call up the bank and change my address. And I did it and it was really easy.”

“It’s so much easier. I would never have done that before Winds of Change,” he said. “It used to be scary but it’s not scary anymore.”

Now, when we ask Aiden what frightens him, he says, “I think the scariest thing is the keel when you’re sailing—hitting the keel on the bottom of the harbour. That’s my worst fear so I steer as much away from that as possible – no pun intended.

Winds of Change