Twenty Sarasota youth with autism finished their second day of sailing camp
The opportunity was made possible with a tri-partnership between Sarasota Sailing Squadron, Sarasota Youth Sailing and Spectrum Sailing.
SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - This is the first time the three-day program has been in Sarasota. The program allows twenty youths the opportunity to learn how to sail at the Sarasota Sailing Squadron throughout the day. The kids start each day of camp with a session in the classroom before finishing the day out on the water sailing, according to Scott Herman, the founder of Spectrum Sailing. In the classroom, the kids learn about the boat, how the sails go up and down, how the sails are controlled with lines, and how the wind affects the sail on the sailboat making it move said David Hillmyer, the president of Sarasota Youth Sailing.
“We strive to reach out to the community and provide community access to several organizations that find themselves to be underserved in our community and this is just one way we provided that access,” said Hillmyer.
This is the first year Spectrum Sailing spread outside of Herman’s hometown of Charleston, South Carolina. Herman founded the organization about five years ago for his autistic son who was not invited to sailing camp there, said Herman. This year, the camp spread to Chicago and Sarasota with plans to return next year. According to Herman, they want to have the camp in six different states across the county offering 120 kids the opportunity to learn how to sail.
“We’ve seen kids in the first day, building friendships, and work together which is great, but it also lets them feel valued and that they’re included in a program,” said Herman. “They have an opportunity then to really build on their self-esteem and confidence from there.”
According to Herman, many sailing camps don’t accept children with autism into their camps because they don’t have the staff or training to handle it. Spectrum Sailing partners with professionals to train the staff members at camp locations. Herman said the camps have a higher teacher-to-student ratio helping give the kids the best sailing experience.
The camp started on Friday, September 16, and ends on Sunday, September 18.
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