By Jessica Servis, Executive Director of Just-Sailing
Ten kids and three staff members from The Arc’s Saturday Program enjoyed an amazing afternoon of maritime education at Just-Sailing last Saturday. The group arrived just before lunch eager to get on the water and learn something new. Safety first, upon arrival everyone was properly fitted with life jackets to provide safety on the boats, dock and beach area. The group now looked official.
Next, we toured the facility showing the kids different types of boats and how they are powered. The kids sat in the canoe and pretended to paddle. They checked out the safety boat, a motorboat used for safety patrol on the water, and listened to the sound of the motor. We walked down the beach to discuss the parts of a sailboat. The Just-Sailing volunteers had rigged and beached two Designer’s Choice sailboats to demonstrate the how the sails move in the wind, the parts of the boat, and how we steer. The kids can see and touch all the boats and sails.
After lunch, everyone had a chance to build their own boat with the help of our volunteers and float it in the test tank. This is a great way to get kids involved in a creative way. They made their sailboats and then tested them in the water.
While some kids made boats, it was time for others to go sailing. For the next two hours all the kids enjoyed sailing around the lake. They all had a chance to steer the boat and trim the sails. Everyone loves to drive, or in sailing terms skipper the boat. It makes you feel empowered and builds self confidence while enjoying time outside. When we sail, we try to teach the kids about the seasons, the animals that live by the lake, and the weather. They love to feel the wind on their faces as we sail around.
About a year ago as we began to build what is now Just-Sailing, Troy and I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Downtown Sailing Center in Baltimore. Acting as coaches in their Accessible Sailing Program for kids and adults with special needs we experienced first hand the joy on the faces of their sailors. Saturday, a year later we couldn’t be happier to see a program like this in our local community.
Thank you to all of the kids, parents, and staff at The Arc for making Saturday possible. We have all been working hard to get the kids on the water for the past few months. People like you make things possible.
Just-Sailing is a non profit organization composed of three major programs: accessible sailing, maritime education, and marine science. The proceeds from our programs and activities help support Accessible Sailing along with the donations and sponsors from our supporters. Thanks to AtlantiCare, West Marine, and Walmart for your support.
Just-Sailing is an education driven volunteer based organization that integrates the freedom of sailing and the power of marine education. We are committed to providing hands on learning opportunities that foster personal independence and a sense of community to the people of southern New Jersey, especially children with special needs, their friends and families, at risk youth, seniors, and people with disabilities. For more information, please visit www.just-sailing.org, like Just-Sailing on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter. Please also feel free to contact me at 609-214-5176 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.