ON OPEN SEAS: SWD provides special needs kids with a sailing experience. David Puscud
ON OPEN SEAS: SWD provides special needs kids with a sailing experience. David Puscud

Kids in wheelchairs set to sail

SAILORS with Disabilities are expected to dock their Sydney-Hobart race yacht Kayle in Coffs Harbour this afternoon for a week's sessions with special needs kids.

SWD is here for its Northern Campaign, an annual adventure along the NSW and Queensland coast that gives kids who may otherwise never experience the joy of sailing the opportunity to spend a day sailing.

From Monday to Friday, the program will see students from Toormina High School, South Grafton High School, Coffs Harbour Public School, Coffs Harbour High School and William Bayldon Public School on the sea.

A total of 750 children with disabilities and their carers will participate in the 2015 Northern Campaign.

Sailors with Disabilities founder David Pescud, said it's all hands on deck with the kids being very proactive in the sessions to help develop their confidence.

"It's about what you can and not what you can't. If we can have even a couple of kids coming off this boat and saying 'Hmm, maybe I could...' then we've done our job," he said.

"A lot of people in the Northern Rivers region are repeat clients and have been going for a number of years now; it's really exciting to see them back on board."

One of those is Coffs Harbour local Kristi Foster, who came across SWD years after a car crash that saw her in and out of a wheelchair.

Kristi is part of the crew who will entertain seven kids in wheelchairs and said "it's pretty special" to see them enjoy sailing.

"Kids in wheelchairs don't often get to do a lot of the activities of their peers.

"We can offer them this activity, we strap the wheelchairs down the back, that sounds ludicrous I know, but they have an absolute ball and they get to go out with their school and be a part of it all instead of being excluded," she said.

The Northern Campaign will travel to Newcastle from August 24 until September 4.



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