Sailors with disABILITIES

Making a difference for the kids

SWD Volunteer David Leslie writes about his recent return to volunteering with Sailors with disABILITIES.

It’s pretty special when one of the kids takes a shine to you and trusts you enough to just relax.  This is a photo of myself and little Jet who had a steer and showed a lot of interest, but he hadn’t said a word all day.  Then when I sat next him he just took my hand and put his head on my knee, put my hand on his shoulder to keep the wind off, relaxed in the sun and had a sleep.  I had to wake him up so I could park the boat.

We had several other breakthroughs that day, as I sailed both the morning and afternoon Winds of joy sails.

The teachers were so pleased that 1 teenage girl, who normally is very placid and removed, got up enthusiastically to join us, (with supervision) at the front of the boat – she wasn’t going to miss out!

Another girl who was flipping from smiling delighted to scared and howling every 5 mins or when we tacked the boat – she was very vocal but no words and then at the end of the sail I looked her in the face and said with a smile “Maryanne, did you have a good day today?”. She looked right back at me with a big grin and said the first words we’d heard all day- “Yeah!!  A GOOD DAY”.

That made me feel it was really worth it to have signed up for a few Winds of Joy days again which I haven’t done for years. It left me feeling that we did make a difference to those kids and teachers. 

Great sail, great weather, I had a great team on the boat and we all had great fun.

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