SWD: Disabled sailor Kristi Foster says sailing has helped her confidence and strength.
SWD: Disabled sailor Kristi Foster says sailing has helped her confidence and strength.

Kristi is going the extra miles

SIX years ago, Coffs Harbour resident Kristi Foster was confined to a wheelchair and in a state of depression after breaking her back in a car crash when she was 21.

But a chance meeting with a special organisation meant she was able to bid farewell to the wheelchair and she is now helping to spread the message as a volunteer with the group that helped her, Sailing with Disabilities (SWD).

The SWD boat will return to Coffs Harbour next month with volunteers like Kristi Foster on board to teach children not only the ins and outs of sailing but, more importantly, show them just how capable they really are.

"It's a unique experience for anyone with a mental or physical disability and a fantastic way to let young people know they can achieve absolutely anything," Kristi said.

"A physical disability can be overcome by using the mind and optimism - if you have a positive outlook on life you can pretty much achieve anything."

Kristi was in and out of a wheelchair for 15 years before she came across SWD.

She said the constant movement of the boat had helped to strengthen her back muscles and allowed her to move around without the help of a chair.

"I've improved my outlook in life by sailing and in particular with Sailing with Disabilities," she said.

"I think it's an emotional thing as well to go out into the ocean - you might see a sunset or sunrise or a dolphin swimming alongside the bow and you realise how precious life is."

Before the SWD boat arrives in Coffs Harbour, Kristi will be taking part in her first Sydney to Gold Coast Yacht Race, which started on Saturday.

"It's my first big ocean race and certainly a dream come true," she said.

"We have another Coffs Harbour boat racing in the event so there'll be some friendly rivarly along the way."

The SWD boat will then dock in Coffs Harbour from August 17-21 and will host visits from a number of local schools.



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