Noosa Yacht and Rowing Club are about to launch a new program which gives local and regional youth access to a sport often seen as inaccessible.
The aptly named Buoyed Up program is targeted at vulnerable youth between the ages of seven and 12. Through the process of learning basic sailing skills, these youth will be encouraged to build self-esteem, develop motor and team working skills, enhance their resilience amongst others and learn about the environment.
Buoyed Up is the brain child of Canberra Yacht Club’s Matt Owen. For the last 14 months he has been rolling out the program in the ACT, testing the structure and working in partnership with the Sir Thomas Lipton Foundation and Communities@Work to establish a sustainable program.
The sailing skills teaching is based on Yachting Australia’s Tackers program where the supplied and very hardy Optimist boats are used to encourage youth to experience sailing in a non-competitive, fun environment.
In April this year the Buoyed Up steering committee approached NYRC’s sailing manager, Paul Blundell, about starting the same program in Queensland. Blundell leapt at the chance.
'We are going to use the program to introduce indigenous and vulnerable youth to sailing. With the help of the non-Government organisation, United Synergies, we are offering these youth the chance to get into sailing, hopefully ultimately keep them in the sport and get them to do something along the lines of a junior instructor.
'I have already met with Dokko, which is the steering body of the Gubbi Gubbi tribe who are the traditional owners of the Sunshine Coast.
'For the first group we are looking at either the first or second week of the September school holidays. We will run four camps in the first year during each school holiday plus Christmas holiday period. Each camp will be held over five week days.'
The budget for the first year, based on an impressive 80 youth attending, is $40,000. This is why Blundell and his NYRC team have organised a big fund-raiser at the club on Saturday 13th July.
Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page on the podium at London 2013
Attending the function as guest speaker will be Buoyed Up national patron and dual Olympic Gold Medallist Malcolm Page along with Paralympic Gold Medal winning sailor Liesl Tesch, who won Gold in the Skud class in London after picking up Silver (Sydney and Athens) and Bronze (Beijing) as a women’s wheelchair basketball player.
Also in the room will be program supporters, the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs, Glen Elmes and Sunshine Coast Councillor Russell Green.
Function tickets are selling for $100 with all profits go to two areas; 50 per cent to Buoyed Up and 50 per cent to help purchase an Access 303 dinghy for young Sunshine Coast Cerebral Palsy sufferer, Lucia Neely.
Daniel Fitzgibbon & Liesl Tesch after winning gold
'We have the blessing of Minister Glen Elmes. He is committed to assisting with program funding and pushing the program further afield. He wants to investigate bringing youth from Cherbourg and Murgon, putting them up in the Sea Scouts facility with their tribal supervisors and parents and have them participate in the program while also opening their eyes to various cultural events to with their traditional background.
Blundell is enthusiastic about what the Buoyed Up program can offer the youth. 'It’s not something that is normally offered as an opportunity to try.' NYRC plan to turn that situation around starting in September this year.
For more information on the program, contact Paul Blundell, firstname.lastname@example.org