A sailing adventure for children with sensory impairments

Young boy smiling on a boat with his father and training instructor

Children with sensory impairments made friends and experienced something completely new when they recently joined Sense for an accessible sailing adventure in the Pennines.

As a Children and Family Support Worker for Sense, I’m lucky enough to witness the connections made and experiences shared by families and children who, through our monthly events, get to try new things like canoeing and sailing.

Once a month, we organise family events in various locations across northern England, helping them to create lifelong friendships whilst supporting one another. They get the opportunity to take part in activities they wouldn’t normally try – whilst ensuring they are accessible, enjoyable and fun!

Our latest family event was an exciting sailing trip at Hollingworth Lake near Manchester. Ten families were invited to sail in boats and canoes on the 120-acre lake situated at the foot of the Pennines, with the aid of qualified sailing instructors

Mother and baby daughter smiling as they sail across Hollingworth Lake

For many of the children and young people, it was their first experience sailing or even being on water!

One family in particular had never been sailing before. Their parents were apprehensive and unsure how their children would respond if they became distressed. We reassured them by allowing everyone to take time to look at the boat before sailing off, and soaking in the atmosphere whilst on the lake. The sailing instructors, who have extensive experience supporting people with additional needs, gave advice on procedures, and they didn’t sail far until the children were happy and settled.

To see the faces of the whole family on their return from sailing for a full hour was priceless.


Young smiling as he's being carried by his father after a fun day out at Hollingworth Lake

One of the mum’s feedback after the event said it all:

“The event at Hollingworth Lake was excellent. We all thoroughly enjoyed it. The sailing instructor was brilliant, and he made sure that both of our boys were fully included in the experience. Oliver loved the sensation of being on the water with the breeze on him and although he was a bit tense at first, he soon relaxed and enjoyed the trip.

“Sam was really excited about going on the boat and the instructor was really good at involving him in helping to control the boat. It was really worthwhile for all of us and something that ordinarily we wouldn’t be able to do with Oliver. Thanks for arranging it, it was a very memorable afternoon.”

A boat with red sails sailing on a lake

Find out more about Children’s Specialist Services at Sense

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Author: Alex Pickles

Alex is a Children and Familiy Support Worker for Sense

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