Stairway kids build up confidence through sailing

After early Sunday morning football practice, the Stairway children spend the remainder of the day sailing at the Puerto Galera Yacht Club’s Youth Dinghy Program.    About 30 children in all show up eager to learn this fascinating and challenging water sport. Donned in bright yellow life vests and lots of sunblock, they rig-up their Optimist and Lawin dinghies and set out sailing.

Safety first

As a rule, before the children go out on the water they will have to demonstrate swimming ability and comfort in the water.  After that the instructors will take them out and do a capsize drill so they know how to right the boat if it tips over.  The children learn never to be on the dock or boat without a life jacket and to put on sunblock.  They also learn the traffic rules of the sea;  who has the right-of-way.

Sailing sessions and mini regattasap12g

Since last January 2011, Stairway children have been participating regularly in the sailing sessions at the Yacht Club.  A mix of local kids and Stairway kids participate.  There are 35 children in the program at present. Approximately 15 percent of the students are girls and they do very well-even out sailing the boys.

Besides the regular Sunday sessions, the Puerto Galera Yacht Club holds  special events and participates in national and international sailing competitions.  Two of the youth sailors, Gabby and DJ, are Stairway scholars.  They are on the national team and have done well in international competitions.  Recently, PYC held a mini regatta where the children sailed around some buoys.

The benefits of sailing

Sailing is great for children in so many ways.  It builds confidence and self-esteem.  Children are often told what to do by their parents and others, but when they are out in that boat – for the first time in their life, they are the captain.  They are on their own, thinking independently and making their own decisions, reading the wind and deciding how to handle the boat.  Poor judgment and wrong decisions may well result in an involuntary dip in the ocean.  Recently, we had a child in our residential program who was not doing well, but everything changed for him after he started sailing.

Exposure to nature

Life in Manila is a far cry from life here in Mindoro with its natural pristine surroundings.  Sailing also benefits children by getting them out into nature.  The Puerto Galera Bay, where the Yacht Club is located, has been called the Jewel of Mindoro and has been listed as one of the Most Beautiful Bays of the World.   It has a natural harbor area, many different species of mangroves trees, birds, coral species, fish, tortoises and even marble and gold.  In this respect, it is no wonder that the children develop a love for sailing that will (we hope) stick with them for life!