Halifax Sailing Club has welcomed a landmark study by the Institute of Education at University College London (UCL), which highlights the positive impact of sailing on the lives of young people who get on the water through the grassroots RYA OnBoard programme.
Run by the Royal Yachting Association, OnBoard introduces sailing and windsurfing to young people aged 8 to 18 by connecting schools and youth groups with RYA clubs and training, offering low cost sessions promoting equal access to the sport from all social and economic backgrounds and encouraging character development.
The UCL report – ‘Children and Sailing: A research evaluation for the Royal Yachting Association and the Andrew Simpson Foundation’ – shows how OnBoard contributes to the development of life skills such as creativity, teamwork, determination, communication, independence and confidence. It also identifies how sailing and windsurfing correlate with benefits from physical activity generally and how RYA OnBoard plays an important role in tackling social injustice by providing unique experiences, which can help to develop self-confidence and open up further opportunities.
Halifax SC Chief Instructor Sue Lamb said: “We are very proud that we have our longstanding RYA OnBoard sailing. We are the highest sailing club in the country where the wind can sometimes nearly blow you away, and it’s wonderful to see a child progress from being a little scared of the great expanse of water to sailing a dinghy at speed with a new-found confidence, announcing that it was the fastest they had ever sailed and stayed upright!
“We have a brilliant team of voluntary instructors and helpers who come each Saturday from May to October to teach young people and their parents to sail, although due to Coronavirus we only restarted our OnBoard sessions three weeks ago at our ‘sister club’ Denholme SC, which is a smaller water and a little lower down so potentially has less wind. We look forward to next year when we can hopefully start to teach new young people at both venues – we already have a waiting list!”
One parent from Halifax SC commented that their daughter had benefited from learning to sail with the club and loved the variety of conditions: “From feeling exciting on really windy days to just playing in the water on calm days. She has developed a quiet confidence from her Saturday sailing which reflects the way in which the club smoothly taught her to sail on her own.’
Other venues offering RYA OnBoard in South Yorkshire include Pennine SC near Sheffield.
The full RYA OnBoard impact report can be read here. Researchers found:
· OnBoard sessions are enjoyed by almost all participants and engender feelings of fun and freedom
· The sessions contribute to a participant’s wider personal and social development. This included enhancing their social skills with both peers and adults; maturity; ability to accept responsibility and concentrate on tasks
· Participants felt more supported by their peers. They also felt more relaxed and confident in themselves following an OnBoard session
· OnBoard plays an important role in tackling social injustice. It provides unique experiences to those from disadvantaged backgrounds and can help to develop self-confidence and open up further opportunities.
· OnBoard sessions particularly develop the attributes of teamwork, communication and confidence.
Hannah Cockle, RYA OnBoard Operations Officer, added: “Being on the water creates multiple situations where young people are challenged and tested as they learn a new activity. OnBoard provides a safe and proven structure for this to happen and a great environment to help them to develop the character attributes and capabilities that are so important for success in life.
“Most of the children and young people involved in the project had never sailed before, despite the sailing sites being located next to their own local communities. Teachers highlighted how there can be a perception around whom sailing is open to, but OnBoard gives students access to a type of experience they would not normally get in their everyday lives.”
A total of 371 young people (aged 8-17), from 19 schools and 14 sailing clubs or commercial sailing centres, completed before (baseline) and after (follow-up) questionnaires for the RYA OnBoard Impact Report. Additionally, 11 instructors, teachers and parents/carers were also interviewed by researchers.
Parents, young people and centres wanting to find out more about how to get involved with OnBoard are invited to visit www.rya.org.uk/go/onboard