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Author's Name: Martha Gouniai
Date: Wed 08 Sep 2021

Making Waves Ashore

You may well ask how a bucket can help children living with disability and disadvantage, but that's where our amazing Making Waves volunteers have used their ingenuity to innovatively help develop the latest program - Making Waves Ashore.

The drive to do things differently, the resilience to overcome obstacles and the belief that nothing is impossible are what Making Waves Foundation was founded on. From that very first Sydney to Hobart, where a group of sailors with disabilities took on the challenge of one of the world’s toughest ocean races despite the odds being stacked against them, we have built an organisation that knows how to rise above difficulties.

The challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic saw MWF use this same vigour and determination to continue our work, the work of challenging society’s perceptions of people with disabilities and disadvantage; the work of empowering people with disabilities to recognise their capacities and to believe in what they can do. In response to this, we created a new series of programs able to be delivered in any setting. Making Waves Ashore is a testament to our commitment to innovation. The programs involve a series of sailing inspired activities that harness the qualities of being on a yacht; team work, communication, resilience and joy.

Through a series of workshops, MWF volunteers worked together to develop these activities. Using equipment from our boats (harnesses, tethers, buckets and rope), Making Waves Ashore encompasses sensory stimulation with touch and feel of ropes and water, balance and coordination with ramps and relays, teamwork and communication through group challenges and purposeful play, and joy and exploration by replicating being on a boat.

The new activities were a hit when included in our Port Stephens fundraising event earlier this year. During the event, students with disabilities from our Winds of Joy program challenged adult guests to two of the Making Waves Ashore activities - the bucket and ball toss and the tethered relay. In the relay, teams wore a life jacket that was tethered to a rope along the floor (from the stern to the bow) of our pretend yacht. With a bucket in hand, each team member had to race to get to the bow, fill up their bucket with water and run back to deposit the water in their team bucket. First team to fill their team bucket won.

While seemingly simple, the game brought both students and the adult crowd to life. As water splashed and teams helped each other unhook their life jackets and fit them to the next in line, there was a common theme of encouragement, perseverance and confidence. The students, who entered the room cautious and shy, completed the activities with eyes beaming and wide smiles. Cheered on by spectators they commented on feeling included, capable and successful.

We are excited to continue growing the Making Waves Ashore program, extending the reach and magic of sailing.

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