Hundreds of young Bahamians who otherwise would likely not have had the opportunity to have learned to sail in New Providence during the summer months, have been able to do this through funds raised by the Bahamas Sailing Association's (BSA) Sponsor A Child program. By donating $400 for each child, the public can allow a child to participate for two intensive weeks in this program that has helped to change the lives of many youngsters.
This year's summer sailing program is scheduled from July 9 through August 17 and the BSA is again inviting individuals, corporations and civic groups to sponsor a child. The first summer sailing program was launched in 2005 and 30 young sailors from D.W. Davis, C.H. Reeves and H.O. Nash took part.
Since then, hundreds of students from 38 schools in New Providence and Long Island have learned to sail in seven summer programs and a number of the youngsters developed a real affinity for the sport, and have gone on to represent the country in international competitions.
Junior Bahamian sailors are now participating each year in the International Sailing Federation's (ISAF) Youth World Championships, Laser North American Championships, Orange Bowl Regattas for Lasers and Optimists and international sunfish events. Also this year, three junior sailors, ages 12 and 13, will be participating in the Optimist World Championships being held in the Dominican Republic.
"We found it unfortunate that in a country surrounded by some of the most incredible waters in the world, so many of your youngsters were denied an opportunity to learn a sport that is such a natural fit for the country because of their financial situations," said Robert Dunkley, director of the National Sailing School with responsibility for fundraising. "It's obvious that if we can get our kids involved in activities that build self-esteem and teach discipline, we can help them grow and mature and that is something that's positive for them and positive for the country."
Keeping the program going and growing is expensive as certified instructors need to be hired. Also, the fleet of optimist dinghies, sunfish and lasers needs to be purchased and maintained and food and drinks need to be provided to keep the youngsters' energy levels up.
In the years since the program was initially launched, a total of 12 Bahamian sailing instructors have been certified, two Bahamian sailors are now on the College of Charleston's sailing team (one of the top teams in the United States) and a number of others are working today in the marine industry - one of which is training to be a ship captain.
The cost for each two-week session in this summer's program is $400 and sponsorship checks can be made payable to the Bahamas Sailing Association and dropped off at the Nassau Yacht Club or mailed to P.O. Box N-752. Questions about the program and sponsorship needs and opportunities can be directed to Robert Dunkley at 357-3959 or email@example.com.
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