A group of students from Hull College has enabled five visually impaired young people to experience a sail training adventure with OYT North.

The voyage, sponsored by The Sir James Reckitt Charity, took place on-board the yacht James Cook in the North Sea last month.

It came about thanks to an innovative partnership which has developed between Neil Davison, a tutor at Hull College and Steve Lennon, general manager of OYT North.

Mr. Davison is also a volunteer with the Hull Actionaires which runs a broad range of activities for blind and visually impaired children.

“Having participated in sail training with Ocean Youth Trust North for many years I know the benefits it provides young people in terms of developing transferrable skills and building self-confidence. “

Blind and visually impaired young people particularly benefit from an improvement in their aptitude for independent living, and better balance and mobility.  A voyage on James Cook provides them with a safe environment within which they can be challenged.  They develop new life skills while at the same time experiencing the unfamiliar sounds and smells of the sea and the feel of the wind on their faces.  It is powerful experience but they require help from sighted enablers.

The BTEC Diploma in Public Services is designed to equip students with the knowledge, understanding and skills required for success when moving towards a career in the uniformed and non-uniformed services such as the Police, Fire Service, Prison Service or the Armed Forces. During the course the students learn how these valued public service organisations operate and gain an appreciation of the social values that sustain them

“Steve and I decided to bring together these two groups of young people for their mutual benefit” said Mr. Davison.

The group of students travelled from Hull to North Shields on Tyneside to board James Cook, OYT North’s 21 metre - 54 tonne steel-hulled yacht, to join their visually impaired crew mates.

Steve Lennon, General Manager of OYT North commented, “Voyages like this capture the essence of sail training - mutual support and learning through doing - and highlight the reasons why it is such a valuable tool for the personal development of young people.

Disability is no barrier when you’re working as a team but it’s vital that the crew communicate clearly and effectively, coming together to achieve collective goals.

Although the voyage was affected by bad weather the group sailed to Blyth, visited Tynemouth and undertook the same range of tasks and challenges in port that they would have done while at sea.”

OYT North regularly works with young people having visual impairment and the yacht James Cook previously finished second in the 2012 London to Portland Small Ships Race, manned by a mixed crew of visually impaired and sighted youngsters, most of whom had never sailed before.

In addition, the team was awarded the coveted Richard Langhorn Trophy for the crew that best represented the spirit of the Race.


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