2016 was another great season for OutSailing, as three events took place, taking a total of 34 vulnerable young LGBTQ people out onto the water.
In July, volunteer leaders and role models took a group of 14 young people from BreakOut Youth, based in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to UKSA in Cowes for a weekend out on the water. Breakout Youth is an independent charity that offers a confidential support service for young people aged 11 to 21, who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ) their sexuality or gender identity. The young people came from four groups in Hampshire, and for some, it was the first time they had met. They were able to get to know each other on the ferry across to the Isle of Wight to the sailing centre.
As soon as the group arrived, it was straight into wetsuits for some raft-building. Getting into a wetsuit was challenging enough for some of the young people who had shyness/body image issues. Gentle coaxing and support from the instructors and volunteers helped a lot. During Saturday, they were taught to rig and sail J80 Keelboats.
The calm winds were nice for the beginners, however the wind picked up during the afternoon, and you could positively feel the buzz and excitement as they all came home. Scary, but excitement beyond anything they could have imaged. Sunday was calmer, so they took a kayak trip up the River Medina.
Gradually over time you see the young people overcome shyness, learn to to trust their peers and really come out of their shells. It was especially amazing to observe the young woman with Asperger’s syndrome, who could barely lift her head at the dinner table, start engaging with people, becoming talkative and animated – telling stories by the end of the weekend.
Many of the young people shared their stories and experiences. Some had supportive/accepting families, some didn’t. Some had supportive/accepting friends, some didn’t. ALL had experienced some form of prejudice or bullying and ALL were vulnerable due to their experiences in society.
OutSailing aims to continue helping these young people have a fun and rewarding experience alongside positive role models to help them feel good about themselves.
Particularly lovely this year was the fact that we had a previous participant of OutSailing activities along as a volunteer to support the group.
Thanks to volunteers from S&CA who helped support the group.
Next year we’re working towards doing a weekend residential with them all again at Bewl Water – lets hope for more wind then!