Sailability is an organisation where people of all ages and abilities can enjoy sailing. I have a vision impairment and recently joined the Lysterfield Sailability Club in Melbourne. I enjoy sailing, especially when the water is rough. Sometimes I like to put my hand in the cold water. Sailing makes me feel free. Studies show that sailing helps us feel better. The sound of the water makes us calm and relaxed. Sailability is run by volunteers. Anyone interested in volunteering can attend a sailing day. No sailing or boating experience is necessary.
Posted by: Bernadette Lancefield, on 05/07/12
I felt exhilirated and free.
Sailability is an organisation that introduces people of all ages and abilities to the joys of sailing in a friendly, supportive environment. It aims to provide people with a straightforward, inexpensive and fun experience. There are currently over 50 Sailability clubs throughout Australia.
I have a vision impairment and recently decided to join the Lysterfield Sailability Club. Weather permitting we sail once a fortnight at Lysterfield Lake in Melbourne's south east. I enjoy the experience, especially when the water is turbulent. Last week it was a windy day. We skidded about on the water, laughing and shouting above the wind. I felt exhilarated and free. Sometimes I leaned over the side of the boat, gliding my hands through the icy water.
Lysterfield Sailability Club uses two different types of sail crafts, Access 2.3 and Access 303 boats. Access sail crafts are stable and easy to control. They are designed for those who are keen to experience sailing but find it difficult to do so.
Good for you
Studies have revealed that sailing improves our mental health. The sound of the water changes our brain pattern, helping us to remain calm and relaxed. Sailing also causes more blood to be pumped around our body, increasing oxygen flow to the brain. This heightens our energy levels and makes us more alert.
Mary Haigh a volunteer at the club describes her experience of Sailability.
The most rewarding thing about volunteering is seeing the clients' reaction to their sailing experience. A smile, a handshake, a thumbs up, a thankyou or however they can convey that they have enjoyed the experience makes it all worthwhile.
Some of our clients who may be tense on land have been known to fall asleep as their carer is in control of the yacht. One young lad who has cerebral palsy and has sailed with a parent for some time eventually got to sail on his own, says Mary.
Sailability also assists school children in learning teamwork. They often form social skills and friendships with others. For many clients sailing increases their self-esteem and personal worth.
Mary reveals that the challenge of her volunteer work is
to be able to assist the client in any way possible without taking away their independence. We deal with clients with various needs which we really have no insight into.
She enjoys working with her team.
I volunteer with a great group of people. We all get on well together. Our group varies in age from early teens to early 50s. We also arrange a couple of social events during the year to stay in touch outside of the sailing season.
Anyone interested in volunteering is welcome to attend any sailing day. No experience is necessary and you do not need a sailing or boating background.
We are always looking for new volunteers. During my time volunteering I have met some amazing people with special needs who meet their daily challenges without a word of complaint. I admire their determination, says Mary.
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