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A leading education expert believes young people across Northumberland can benefit from learning to sail after completing a landmark project on developing character strengths with the sport’s national governing body, the RYA.
Professor Bill Lucas, Director of the Centre for Real-World Learning and Professor of Learning at the University of Winchester, combined academic findings on the role character has to play in shaping young people’s life chances with research into life skills developed through sailing. He concluded that sailing nurtures seven key strengths. These are creativity, confidence, teamwork, communication, determination, independence and performance (the process of learning how to improve).
The Department for Education (DfE) has committed to helping schools ensure more children develop character traits, attributes and behaviours that underpin success in education and work. Prof. Lucas said: “I’m struck by how much of a child’s life in school, can be focused on exams and how much more needs to focus on the other things that help them to do really well in life, including resilience and learning to work with others.
“If you do those things better, exam results get better and people who have these attributes get on better in life. They are much happier and can be more flexible and adaptable to embrace challenges.”
The project was undertaken as part of the RYA’s re-launch of its youth grassroots programme, OnBoard, which provides low cost sailing opportunities for local school and youth groups so more kids aged 8-18 can learn to sail.
Prof. Lucas continued: “All the evidence says for a young person to flourish in the 21st century the character attributes they need are on that list of seven. It is no longer a question as to whether these things are important it is now all about how you do it.
“Sailing can provide an answer to that ‘how’, whilst also providing all the other benefits sailing brings like having fun with friends and family, being active and getting outdoors.”
Coquet Shorebase Trust
The Coquet Shorebase Trust is one local club that runs the RYA OnBoard programme.
The Coquet Shorebase Trust has around 15 juniors out on the water every week during the summer months, while through being an official RYA OnBoard club, they work with local schools, mainly the James Calvert Spence College catchment.
They believe Prof. Lucas’ endorsement will help show more local parents, teachers and youth workers that sailing can make a real difference to a youngster’s prospects.
Vic Brown, Manager of the Trust said: “Our organisation has always had a strong educational element, as we were originally the school’s Nautical Studies base, which was founded in 1951. Over the years we have seen many of our young people gain in confidence and go on to a wide range of careers and vocational activities that they would not otherwise have considered.”
RYA OnBoard has an impressive track record – since its launch in 2005 over half a million youngsters have been introduced to sailing and windsurfing, with around 10% taking up the sport on a regular basis.
For more information about RYA OnBoard, including more on Prof. Lucas’ research, visit www.rya.org.uk/onboard
If you’d like to find out more about how to get out on the water and start your sailing adventure visit http://www.rya.org.uk/go/