“If I can teach you to sail as a fit person, then I must give that other person who is differently challenged the same opportunity, making sailing inclusive.”
~ Bob Bailey, Director, Sailability Antigua
Antiguans with disabilities are given the opportuity to sail, thanks to the efforts of Sailability Antigua. Activities geared towards incorporating the differently abled into society through this exercise continues to be well-received.
Sailability has a fleet of eight boats, ranging from small fun Hansa to a 40ft catamaran. From their location at the National Sailing Academy in English Harbour, Antigua, every week an average of 85 people with disabilities, aided by tranied local instructors, take to the seas. With the weather being good all year round, they sail in Falmouth Harbour which is approximately 1.5 miles across.
This social interaction and recreational activity of sailing is offered free of charge to people with disabilities in Antigua. The same service is offered for a fee to visitors, many of whom would come off cruise ships berthed in the harbour.
Bob Bailey, Director of Sailability Antigua said, “All people that are called disabled are seen to fit into just one category – disabled. This could not be further from the fact. Every one of us is differently abled. We look at each person that comes sailing and with their carer or family, assess their capabilities. We then tailor a sailing program to bring out that capability and to hopefully go a little further and beyond.”
Sailing has proven to be very beneficial to people with disabilties, and in terms of empowerment and the feeling of inclusiveness, Bob says the smiles on their faces tells a happy story. Sailability Antigua has just taken delivery of a brand new mini bus which has been adapted to accommodate two wheelchairs so Bob hopes to reach further into the island communities to deliver the benefits of sailing to many more people with disabilities.
All of the work of Sailability Antigua is funded by charitable donations. One of the major fundraisers is Sailability Super Sunday Charity Walk Sailability Antigua is the only programme of its kind running in the Caribbean Region., an event held in March which sees over 350-500 people walking to raise funds to enable this organization to contine providing these services to the disabled. The island’s Governor General, Sir Rodney Williams participates and so do most of the senior government ministers, including the Prime Minister, Gaston Brown. This event raises about 65% of Sailability Antigua’s annual costs. The administration is run by volunteers and the paid sailing instructors are Antiguan, therefore, the money raised is injected back into the community.
A new initiative will be undertaken to offer residential sailing week courses for veterans from Canada, USA and the UK.
Contact: Bob Bailey
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