Young sailors benefitting from grassroots programme at Snettisham
Snettisham Beach Sailing Club has welcomed research findings which highlight the positive impact of the sport on the lives of young people through the grassroots RYA OnBoard programme.
Run by the Royal Yachting Association, OnBoard introduces sailing and windsurfing to young people aged eight 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 research: ‘Children and Sailing: A research evaluation for the Royal Yachting Association and the Andrew Simpson Foundation’ was conducted by University College London researchers, and identifies how OnBoard contributes to the development of life skills such as creativity, teamwork, determination, communication, independence and confidence.
It also highlights 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.
Snettisham Beach Sailing Club in Norfolk provides OnBoard sailing sessions for its members, although activities were curtailed in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Jane Ellison, from the club. said: “We would usually run a Wednesday Club for junior members from May to the end of August but, as we weren’t able to start this in May, we decided to run some online sessions instead to try and keep our younger members engaged and enthused about sailing and involved the young sailors making boats, or running around the house to find objects for the session – we really made the most of the RYA’s ‘Sail from Home’ videos and resources too.
"By August we were able to get back on the water and everyone that took part online was really excited to get back to the club and go sailing again!
"Feedback from the children and parents was that they really looked forward to the sessions each week and they welcomed the interaction with each other at a time everyone was feeling so isolated.”
SBSC’s OnBoard programme sees young sailors introduced to sailing and provided with progression from beginner through to racer, along with a number of school sessions as part of activities.
Despite the challenges of 2020, the club found ways to keep young sailors engaged, including running online and afloat sessions as well as scaled-back Cadet weeks.
Jane said: “In total 68 children took part across the two weeks. It was so lovely to be able to offer some on the water activity and the children were brilliant at adapting to the changes and lack of changing facilities/social distancing etc whilst at the club.”
Jen Miller, RYA East OnBoard lead, says many young sailors have benefited from learning to sail at the multitude of OnBoard clubs across Norfolk.
"Not only are they learning to sail through the RYA Youth Sailing Scheme, but they are also developing their life skills through character-building attributes.
"With a focus on building confidence, communication, creativity, determination, independence and teamwork, this has presented a great opportunity to both develop club members but also to reach out to schools and other external groups, inviting them to learn to sail and in turn helping clubs to grow.
"Clubs have seen how the children have benefited from this greatly. Feedback from instructors, parents and the children themselves tells us how much this works.
"In addition, the instructors have had the opportunity to develop their skills, improving their ability to support as well as instruct the children.”
Parents, young people, clubs and centres wanting to find out more about how to get involved with OnBoard can visit www.rya.org.uk/go/onboard