Accessible Sailing for people of all ages living with with Cerebral Palsy

Accessible Sailing for people of all ages living with with Cerebral Palsy

By Col Stocker

Accessible sailing event for those with Cerebral Palsy and their families. Cerebral Palsy Plus in Bristol show that no matter the complexity of their disability you can achieve an empowering and enjoyable day outdoors.

Social exclusion and isolation are huge issues faced by many with cerebral palsy from physical to emotional impacts, which can be extremely detrimental to their wellbeing. A lifelong condition, it presents many challenges to those who live with it and being able to access outdoor opportunities can be particularly difficult. This is often heightened by the fact that many will also have co-existing conditions such as a learning disability, epilepsy, speech impairment, and joint pain.

Cerebral Palsy Plus is a Bristol area charity working with children and adults with Cerebral Palsy, their families and their carers, fighting to ensure that no matter what their circumstances or needs, they can live as independently as they wish.

In 2022 they organised an accessible sailing event which saw 70 people with Cerebral Palsy, along with their families, try at least one watersport and so were keen to organise another. So last year they applied to the Alpkit Foundation for support and it was fantastic to hear back from Karen at CPP, on how £500 went towards another really positive event that showed how they everyone could still participate, and that sailing can be enjoyed in an accessible way.

“The event took place at Bristol Harbour and participants experienced a variety of water-based activities as planned, including sailing, paddling and power boat trips. There were also river boat trips on offer aboard the ‘Aiming Higher’, a completely wheelchair accessible craft. No matter the complexity of their disability, our aim with this event was to provide an empowering and enjoyable day for our members and provide an opportunity for them to try an activity that many of them would often feel excluded from. Every care was taken to ensure the day was fully accessible, there was even a hoist available to help those who needed it to transfer in and out of the boats.”

man with cerebral palsy sailing

By hiring a Mobiloo for the day, it meant those who required an accessible toilet, with a hoist and changing table, felt confident to attend the event and they also provided transport support to several members who otherwise would have been excluded due to lack of access to appropriate transportation. The result was that they had around 90 people of all ages take part, including children as young as 4 years old and Karen fed back on how the day was enjoyed as much by the families as the members themselves, which meant it was a magical day to make some lovely memories having fun as a family.

“Many of our members have a complex disability and could never have imagined being able to sail, we also had 17 powerchair users attend this years event, more than ever before! The members got to try each of the activities if they wished and could also get multiple turns on an activity they particularly enjoyed. One of the things that shone through is how much our members enjoyed the social side of the day as much as the sailing itself. They really relish the opportunity to have fun in the company of their peers who have a shared understanding."

Click here if you want to find out more about the great work at Cerebral Palsy Plus

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