On August 14, 2015, the San Pedro Sailing Club, with the help of equipment provided by the Belize Sailing Center, was proud and excited to host the first Special Needs Sail Training session with one of the Special Needs children here in San Pedro. Andy Milner, Director of Training for the Sailing Club said "when Lara Goldman from Camp Starfish approached us about starting such a programme, I was instantly 'on board' with this incredible initiative".
The Belize Sailing Center grew out of the San Pedro Sailing Club's intention to help bring the world of Sailing to the children of San Pedro, which would normally be financially out of reach. The goal was to instill in the children the principles of sailing that will provide them with global opportunities not only within the sailing community but in life in general. "Sailing is universal, the skills transcend just sailing, and if we can help teach these kids some useful skills, well, then we have reached our goal".
Once Andy and Lara realized that it was possible to work with Special Needs kids with sailing, Lara reached out to Sarah Freudenberg, Director of ACES special needs education program to coordinate the first lesson. Sarah's personal experience with the selected children was instrumental in creating this opportunity. With her guidance and support, Andy was able to communicate effectively with the student, who has a learning disability, creating the first of many successful sailing memories for all involved.
After the lesson, members of the Special Needs Sailing Training Team met to discuss next steps, and 2 additional children have been selected to beta test the program. The team members say that participating is as much a pleasure for themselves as it appears to be for the children.