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Endeavour & BF&M partner to support youth on the autism spectrum

4 May 2022

Endeavour, a Bermuda-registered charity, is committed to ensuring that youth of all backgrounds, skills and abilities have the same opportunity to experience the joys of sailing, hands-on STEAM learning activities and explore Bermuda’s rich maritime heritage.

BF&M initially approached Endeavour in 2017 with the idea to extend Endeavour’s experiential learning activities to students in public schools who are on the autism spectrum. The programme fosters social inclusion and skills development for young people with autism and/or other developmental challenges, by encouraging and supporting their engagement in sailing and hands-on learning activities.

The Berkeley Institute students and teachers at Endeavour East in St. George’s

Jennifer Pitcher, Endeavour’s Community Engagement, Development & Partnerships Manager said: “BF&M have been invaluable supporters of Endeavour’s work since 2017 when the BF&M No Limits Sailing Programme was first launched during Autism Awareness Month in partnership with Endeavour and Bermuda Autism Support and Education (BASE).” 

It is widely recognised that engaging in sailing activities exposes young people to mental, social, emotional, physical and educational benefits. This is the case for youth of all abilities and backgrounds including children with autism who have unique learning needs. Engaging young people with autism in sailing activities on and off the water can increase their self-confidence and self-reliance while providing opportunities to practice social interaction with their peers in a safe and supportive environment. 

Endeavour is proud to partner with five schools across Bermuda for the BF&M No Limits Sailing Programme which engages students ages five through 18 years old who are on the autism spectrum in experiential learning activities as a form of recreational therapy.

The five public schools that Endeavour partners with for the BF&M No Limits Sailing Programme are:

Paget Primary

Prospect Primary

West Pembroke Primary

Dellwood Middle School

The Berkeley Institute

John Wight, Group Chairman and CEO of BF&M Limited, said: “We are particularly proud of our sponsorship of Endeavour and the BF&M No Limits Sailing Programme.  We are delighted to see so many students, especially children on the autism spectrum, having the opportunity to experience sailing and hands-on learning at no cost to their families.”

Dellwood Middle School students and teachers during the BF&M No Limits Sailing Programme at Endeavour

Tristan Loescher, Endeavour West Programme Manager explains, “It has been incredible welcoming new and returning young people who are on the autism spectrum to Endeavour for the BF&M No Limits Sailing Programme. It is rewarding to see the students’ self-esteem increase during their experience as they get to try new things and build their confidence.

It’s inspiring to see students’ curiosity and excitement thrive as they engage in sensory experiences in the classroom with Endeavour’s STEAM activities and on-water as they explore Bermuda through fun sailing adventures. We love watching the students’ personalities shine through while they engage in hands-on learning activities including building sail karts, exploring buoyancy and boat design as well as exploring Bermuda from the water, completing a marine debris cleanup and a nature scavenger hunt.”

Learning about buoyancy at Endeavour during the BF&M No Limits Sailing Programme

“This is Derek’s 4th year with Endeavour [for the BF&M No Limits Sailing Programme] and we are grateful for the opportunity for him to participate and learn new things each and every time!” said Derek’s mother, Penny Smith.

“Thank you to everyone involved with this programme. My son absolutely loves to sail with Endeavour. Something he would have never done if it was not for this programme.” said Tristen’s mother, Jenny Purvey.

Ashleigh Lowe, ASD Teacher, The Berkeley Institute shares: “We had a wonderful time at the BF&M No Limits Endeavour Sailing Programme. I am always impressed by the Endeavour coaches. They are absolutely amazing and we are so grateful to have the opportunity to learn from them! Each of the team members demonstrate their expertise in sailing in a calm and patient manner. This really helps the students to feel comfortable and confident in their sailing excursions. Every time we attend Endeavour for the BF&M No Limits Sailing Programme, I observe new skills that the students have learned and how they are growing in their confidence and willingness to try new activities and build their skills. This programme has been a highlight for the students for many years and it continues to have numerous positive benefits for students on the ASD spectrum.

The variety of STEM activities for the students were very engaging. The hands-on learning opportunities were highly beneficial. Additionally, the on-land activities helped to reinforce concepts while sailing. The students look forward to going every year and it’s a great experience. The Endeavour team is incredible (every year) with their patience, passion and expertise in sailing. All these factors make the experience more memorable and enjoyable for the students.” 

Working together as a team developing skills during the BF&M No Limits Sailing Programme with Endeavour

Jennifer Pitcher, Community Engagement, Development & Partnerships Manager said, “Our team is grateful to our five partner schools and all of the dedicated teachers who are deeply committed to supporting their students’ developmental and socio-emotional needs along with our team to deliver inclusive activities for young people with autism and engage them in meaningful ways on and off the water. We rely on the teachers’ feedback about their students’ learning needs to help make this programme happen and we look forward to working together in the future to offer students’ the best possible learning experience in a supportive environment. 

Special thanks to BF&M for their vision in launching and supporting the programme, and Endeavour’s lead founding partner Orbis, for their generous support of Endeavour’s work with Bermuda’s young people of all backgrounds and abilities.”

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