What is it about boating that draws so many people to go beyond the safety of land to spend time exposed to the elements? For some, it’s the feeling of freedom when out on the open water, or the thrill of competition when out for a Wednesday night race or the camaraderie that inevitably comes with being part of the boating community.
As for me, it’s all of this and much more as nothing beats the feelings of independence and freedom in being able to leave my wheelchair on the dock along with the physical restrictions of everyday life and get out there and enjoy some time on the water.
Whitby SailAbility is dedicated to providing people living with disabilities the opportunity to experience boating and all it has to offer and this is a big year for us we formalize the non-profit charitable status of the organization to deliver quality programming that is uniquely attuned to be inclusive to people with disabilities.
This season we received the great news that our specially adapted Paralympic-class boat, the SKUD-18, received a PHRF-LO certificate, which means we can join in club races and get scored! This opens up more possibilities for people with disabilities to participate in the competitive aspect of sailing to realize their potential as an athlete.
We also have a 2 seat Access Dinghy that is ideal for taking out beginners and people that do not have the ability to sail independently as they can sail with an instructor or volunteer right beside them, helping with the lines and steering, as needed. Furthermore, the Whitby Yacht Club was kind enough to donate a Tanzer 22 keelboat, which adds yet another dynamic to the program to provide opportunities for groups to sail together.
More great news came our way this year as we have been selected as torchbearers for the Whitby segment of the TORONTO 2015 Parapan Am Games Torch Relay on August 5th. This is both a great honor for us to be involved in such a great event and an opportunity to create greater awareness about our initiative. This segment of the relay will take place on the water, utilizing our SKUD-18 to carry the torch across Port Whitby Harbour to an athlete waiting on shore to carry the torch to the Abilities Centre located across the street from the harbour. The torch relay begins on August 3, 2015, and will make its final stop on August 7, 2015, at the Parapan Am Opening Ceremony venue in Toronto, Ontario. This torch relay will be the largest ever held for a Parapan Am Games.
Boating is social, recreational and therapeutic and it has been demonstrated in programs across Canada that there is a notable increase in self-esteem and confidence when persons with disabilities find themselves participating in sports and recreational activities alongside everyone else.
Come join the fun and get involved!
If you are interested in learning more about the program or to be a part of this great initiative, please contact us.