Smooth sailing for youngsters

THE Ulverstone community has 12 reinvigorated youngsters following the graduation of the Leven Yacht Club’s broadreach program on Saturday night.

In just its first year, the broadreach program gives children and their parents or caregivers the opportunity to do something they wouldn’t normally get to do, which in this case is sailing.

Leven Yacht Club media spokesperson Paul O’Halloran said the program was one of the most fulfilling things he has ever been involved in.

“About 12 months ago local teacher Chris Fletcher set up a pilot program and after that was successful he and the club decided to take on a broadreach program.

“Basically we targeted kids from ages 10 to 13, but we didn’t identify them ourselves. Chris approached the schools and asked them to identify the children along with their parents and caregivers who would be willing to commit to the program,” Mr O’Halloran said.

Along with the children, there were 11 adults in the program along with 15 Leven Yacht Club members who acted as mentors for the group.

From the outset Mr O’Halloran said the participants were all frightened to even get in the boats, but over nine weeks the children, along with their family members, were able to build up confidence and sail their boats in the open ocean.

“We promoted a healthy lifestyle, with an aim of getting fit to sail, for the children through the nine weeks.

“It wasn’t just about the sailing. There were a lot of numeracy and literacy skills needed to sail the boat properly, with the sailors asked to tell wind direction.”

The program is set to be on again later this year in the 2012-13 season.

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