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ASC funding helps students with disabilities set sail

Students and instructors enjoy sailing as part of the Winds of Joy program near Mackay.

The Foundation has begun its annual Northern Campaign from Sydney stopping at ports along the east coast with students along for the ride.

Students from Mackay, Yeppoon and Rockhampton joined a crew of skilled volunteers for a sailing lesson as part of its Making Waves Winds of Joy program.

The foundation received a $150,000 Participation Grant for their ‘Introducing Youths with Disabilities to Sailing’ project which aims to reduce stress and hesitancy to try sailing so that students can enjoy the experience.

The Winds of Joy program helps build confidence, optimism and team skills to help children with disabilities realise their potential.

Winds of Joy has been operating for more than 28 years with more than 55,000 people benefiting from the program.

Students boarded ‘Kayle’ a 54ft racing yacht that can accommodate up to four wheelchairs and allows people with varying disabilities to safely and successfully take part in sailing.

“Children who come on board get a real sense of achievement that they carry with them long after the sail is over. The kids help hoist the main, trim the sails and some even steer the boat. We encourage as much participation as possible, so they get to feel like they are real sailors out on the waves,” skipper Kathy Veel said.

Thanks to funding from the Australian Sports Commission, the program has been able to expand with Central Queensland students the first to use new interactive education materials to introduce them to basic sailing concepts and prepare them for their sail.

The resources are aimed at 8–18-year-olds with an intellectual or physical disability and will be rolled out nationally to complement the on-water program.

After a two-year break due to COVID, the crew and schools were thrilled to get back on the water.

The ASC’s Participation Grant program has invested $28.3 million over four years to support 98 sport and physical activity programs across Australia to provide more opportunities for Australians to connect or return to sport and physical activity.

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