What is Sailability?
(Editor – Ian Rick, Murray Bridge Sailability)
In simple terms it is the name given to a range of organisations who sponsor and support activity whereby people with a disability are given the opportunity to enjoy sailing or relaxation which otherwise would be denied to them.
The concept originated in Great Britain in the 1980’s and has grown since then to a worldwide community in France, Greece, Hungary India, Japan, The Netherlands, Portugal, Singapore, New Zealand, the USA, Malaysia, Timor and Australia.
Invariably Availability activity is associated with sailing clubs where such facilities as boat storage, launching sites and infrastructure to cope with (groups of disabled people are available. And they contain the extremely valuable source of experienced sailors , boat handlers and many other volunteers that the programme requires.
Using specially designed boats, people with a disability can enjoy the freedom which can only be found when sailing a boat (with or without a companion). It is a time when no-one else makes a decision, you are your own master, and you decide where to go and when to return. It is a very different scene to every-day life for many.
Having that freedom builds confidence in being independent and making one’s own decisions and proves that despite some health issues the person is still capable of learning a new activity. In many cases people with a disability have become very competitive and relish in the opportunity to race against their peers and when offered, against able bodied opponents.
Sailability provides a challenge, to venture into and succeed in a world previously dominated by able bodied people. It hones in on something the person can do and ignores things they can’t. It gives an opportunity to learn and develop new skills, to understand and learn to master the relationship between the wind, the water and the small boat you are master of and in some cases overcome a feeling of inadequacy. And enjoy doing it.
“Sailability Days” are and important social occasion where participants can mingle, and compare notes, with others who are in the “same boat” as they are and to relate to the volunteers that understand their situation.