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Endeavour Builds Confidence with BF&M No Limits

25 Nov 2020

By Robyn Bardgett

Three years ago, BF&M approached Endeavour to create the BF&M No Limits Sailing Programme, extending the joy of sailing to young people of all abilities.

For the past three years, the BF&M No Limits Sailing Programme in partnership with Endeavour, which provides hands-on experiential learning to children on the autism spectrum, has not only exposed students to sailing but has also transformed their learning inside and outside of the classroom.

While the programme runs twice a year in the spring and fall, the Endeavour team found themselves pivoting to a virtual setting earlier this year due to Covid-19. But, luckily, with new protocols in place, Endeavour welcomed new and returning students safely on the water this fall.

Ashleigh Lowe, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) teacher at the Berkeley Institute, said the students were “thrilled” to get back on the water again.

“This form of recreational therapy is very beneficial for students with autism because they are immersed in a sensory experience while sailing around the island,” said Ms Lowe.

She added that the transformation in the students’ confidence and willingness to try new sensory activities is “an incredible journey to observe.”

While students engage in hands-on activities through sailing, such as exploring wind and weather patterns as well as buoyancy, they also come away from the programme with newfound skills that translate back into the classroom.

“They have improved social and communication skills,” explained Ms Lowe. “Students are more willing to interact with their peers and other teachers. They express themselves more and communicate their needs.”

Along with a new appreciation for sailing and a newfound confidence, students also have an increased interest in science and a better awareness about keeping the environment clean.

“The BF&M No Limits Sailing Programme with Endeavour aligns with our objectives and enables students to learn through recreational therapy and STEAM activities,” explained Ms Lowe.

“Students’ interest in science has piqued since participating in Endeavour. Through our interactive science lessons, students reinforce concepts from their experience at Endeavour.”

Students also reported enjoying the experience and, in particular learning new skills.

Student Isaiah Sousa said he learned to tie different types of knots and he and fellow student Micah Lambert enjoyed going fast.

“Before I went to Endeavour I didn’t know how to sail. Now I know how to sail,” said Micah. “Last year, I sailed on a boat with my friends from the East Fort to a beach. That was my first time sailing without a coach on the boat. My teachers were very proud of me.”

Student Sanurah Marshall appreciated how “relaxing and calming” sailing was for her.

She said, “I learned how to setup the sails and steer the boat on the water. I also learned how to dock the boat on the beach.”

John Wight, Chairman and CEO of BF&M Limited, said: “It is so gratifying to see this programme go from strength to strength. From the outset, we have wanted to encourage the exposure of as many children as possible to Bermuda’s marine heritage as well as to the experiential benefits that sailing offers. We have been delighted to see both returning and new sailors on the water.”

Tristan Loescher, Endeavour Programme Manager said, “It is very rewarding to see the students’ faces light up with excitement and watch their development and progress during their time at Endeavour.

We are thankful for our partner schools, The Berkeley Institute, Dellwood Middle School, Paget Primary, West Pembroke Primary and Prospect Primary who we work with to deliver the programme for their students on the autism spectrum. We are inspired by the dedication of the teachers to go above and beyond to support their students’ needs and enjoy working together to enrich the students’ learning experience.”

Along with gaining confidence to sail and gaining important skills to competently set up and handle a boat, the students also appreciated the support from the Endeavour coaches.

According to Sanurah the Endeavour coaches are “kind and helpful.”

Ms Lowe said, “The Endeavour coaches are very positive, encouraging and always provide the students with positive affirmations each day. They encourage the students to try new activities and be the best version of themselves.

Moreover, I’ve seen a positive shift in the students’ ability to problem solve after participating in Endeavour. They are able to analyze different problems from multiple angles and come up with an effective solution.”

Jennifer Pitcher, Endeavour’s Community Engagement, Development & Partnerships Manager said, “We’re thrilled to see students enjoy a rewarding experience during the BF&M No Limits Sailing Programme with Endeavour.

We’re grateful for BF&M’s exceptional support of Endeavour’s work and in particular, their commitment toward this incredible programme. Together we’re making a positive difference in the community that will have benefits for years to come.” 

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