BF&M and Endeavour Sailing launched a pilot programme earlier this year in April during Autism Awareness Month with students and teachers from Dellwood Middle School, Prospect Primary School, and West Pembroke Primary School.
A spokesperson said, “Inclusivity is one of the core values of the Endeavour Community Sailing, a non-profit educational sailing programme that engages students in experiential Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math [STEAM] through Sailing learning that builds confidence, teamwork, and leadership skills.
“By offering school-based cost-free programs Endeavour removes any barriers to access sailing and ensures its reach extends to students across all socioeconomic backgrounds in Bermuda as well as with varying levels of skills and abilities, ensuring that each student has the same opportunity to be exposed to the joys of sailing.
“The BF&M No Limits Sailing Programme in partnership with Endeavour embodies this important focus of inclusiveness offering STEAM through Sailing experiential learning opportunities for students on the autism spectrum or with developmental challenges as a form of recreational therapy.”
“Autism Spectrum Disorder [ASD] is a complex neurobehavioural condition that includes impairments in social interaction and developmental language and communication skills.
“The pilot programme initiated earlier this year in April during Autism Awareness Month with students and teachers from Dellwood Middle School, Prospect Primary School, and West Pembroke Primary School.
“The outcome of the BF&M No Limits Sailing pilot programme was overwhelmingly positive with students making huge strides in their personal development, and teachers and parents reporting the noticeable differences in students’ behaviour during and after their participation in the programme.
“The BF&M No Limits Sailing programme was offered again at the end of September providing handson STEAM through Sailing learning opportunities for 7 students ages 6 through 10 years old who are on the autism spectrum or have developmental challenges and are enrolled in the ASD Programme at Paget Primary School.”
John Wight, President and Chief Executive Officer of BF&M, said, “As a leading health insurer on the Island, BF&M supports many of Bermuda’s health and wellness related organisations and initiatives.”
“When the America’s Cup Endeavour Program was started, we thought it would be wonderful to extend the excitement and the experience of sailing to children with autism, and we worked with the Endeavour team as well as with Bermuda Autism Support and Education [BASE] to start the BF&M No Limits Sailing programme.
“We were delighted with the reaction of the students who took part in the pilot programme, and with the feedback from parents and teachers. We wanted to ensure that this initiative would continue well beyond the America’s Cup and so we have committed to continuing our support of the BF&M No Limits Sailing programme and of Endeavour Community Sailing.”
Freda Trimm, Special Aid Teacher at Paget Primary, said, “I would like to offer our heartfelt thanks to the BF&M No Limits Sailing Programme, facilitated by Endeavour Community Sailing.
“Our recent experience with your Endeavour staff has been the most influential of our students’ school life. Both the students and the staff have never had such an enjoyable, thought provoking, learning experience such as this ever.
“Your staff were some of the most knowledgeable and understanding we have encountered. However what made the experience so awe-inspiring was their ability to impart this knowledge and experience to our students. Many times because of our students’ exceptionalities, they are generally ignored.
“As a result they historically miss opportunities like what we have just had the chance to participate in. This experience has had a profound and positive effect, and our students’ learned an amazing amount about sailing, which ordinarily they would not have.”
Parent of one student, Rico Lambert, said, “we are very thankful for the programme, our son having Autism does not prefer to try many new things. He was very happy about sailing and he hasn’t stopped asking to go back. I hope this program will continue. We appreciate you.”
Another student, Arissa Wilson’s mother, said, “Thank you for allowing my daughter to experience a new venture that brought her enjoyment, courage and confidence in your program.
“This epic experience shows others in the community how important our children’s future is. I look forward to the active learners to be sponsored again to experience more. This programme has opened my eyes to a new spectrum of growth with my daughter. Thanks to you.”
Endeavour Programme Manager, Leah Collis, said, “our team finds the programme largely rewarding and our instructors are inspired by the remarkable change observed in students on the autism spectrum and with developmental challenges as they increase their confidence transitioning from fearful of what to expect in the beginning of the programme to responding with ease to questions in the classroom and excited to be on the water and learn as much as possible during their experience.”
Tom Herbert-Evans, Endeavour Community Sailing Manager, said, “until you interact with a student or adult diagnosed with being on the autism spectrum, it can be somewhat daunting to think what the individual may be like as a student.
“Some people can be quite judgmental toward people with varying learning abilities who may not learn the same way as them or in a traditional educational setting.
“However, this experience has been incredibly rewarding for the entire Endeavour team. We recommend for anyone engaging with students who are on the autism spectrum and/or have developmental challenges to take responsibility to learn about the condition, and have patience and a positive outlook, as students may learn concepts in a way that is different than others who may excel in a traditional classroom setting.
“The idiom ‘never judge a book by its cover’ carries invaluable meaning, as people shouldn’t judge others based on how they are perceived to learn, but take time to get to know them and how to best interact with them.
“For example, communication and social skills may be fairly poor in some cases of students who are on the autism spectrum; however they are highly capable with skills in other areas that are quite advanced and overall they are extremely talented individuals, and teach us a lot about ourselves.
“We’re truly grateful to our sponsors for their support of Endeavour Community Sailing, and we thank BF&M for their wonderful support of this initiative and look forward to their continued partnership.”Back to News Archives
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