“Wellness on the Waves” Cork youths learning life skills at sea thanks to Sailing into Wellness and Port of Cork Company partnership.

“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor” is the saying often used to describe the vital
lessons learned from challenges we face in life. Sailing into Wellness and the Port of Cork
Company (PoCC) have taken inspiration from this quote to come together and help young
people from three Cork City youth groups develop vital, transferable skills – all while sailing.


Established in 2017 by co-founders, James Lyons and Colin Healy, Sailing into Wellness
offers programmes that aim to empower participants and help them develop skills from
problem solving and decision making to communication and rapport building – all through
the medium of sailing. The initiative was born from the benefits and therapeutic nature of
sailing and was initially aimed at those recovering from addiction and mental health
challenges. This spring, they have been supported by the Port of Cork Company who have
proudly sponsored their Youth Day Sailing Programme.


This partnership has made it possible for 16 young people from three Cork City youth groups to participate in the programme. Participants from Cork Life Centre, West View Project and Aspect Autism Support Service have been taking to the water over the last number of weeks working on their personal and social development, learning practical sailing skills and pushing themselves beyond their comfort zones in an environment they would not normally have access to. Each of the three groups benefiting from this programme work closely with young people offering them alternative education routes, community employment opportunities and support services.


Speaking about the programme and support from PoCC Sailing into Wellness co-founder,
James Lyons, said “Our Youth Day Sailing Programme allows us to share these invaluable
experiences with the next generation and support from Port of Cork has helped us to reach those who would not normally have access to activities like this. The participants from these youth groups have already faced many challenges in their lives and we hope that the programme will help them develop skills to continue overcoming these challenges and show just how capable they are. We are incredibly grateful to those at the Port of Cork for joining us in inspiring a new generation of potential sailors and seafarers in Cork.”


The Youth Sailing Programme, supported by PoCC, takes place over 12 days with eachnparticipant getting the opportunity to spend four days learning from the Sailing into Wellness instructors over four weeks. The training focuses on core areas which are not only vital when sailing in rough seas but also when trying to navigate challenging times in life. As James explains, “This particular programme utilises core elements also found in recovery and therapy, such as: building trust, positive communication, team-work, decision making, problem solving, goal setting and building confidence and resilience. We believe our programs also help to remove the socioeconomic and physical barriers that prevent some sections of our society from accessing such opportunities.”


Port of Cork’s Chief Commercial Officer, Conor Mowlds, shared his excitement at the partnership saying “Inclusion not only underpins the various Sailing into Wellness programmes but is also a core value for us here at the Port of Cork, so we are delighted and proud to support such a beneficial initiative with Sailing into Wellness and some of the incredible youth groups in our community. It has been inspiring to hear how much the participants have enjoyed being out on the water, learning basic sailing skills, personal development skills and growing in confidence. We hope it might even encourage some of them to look at careers on the water, open up new opportunities and possibly join us in the Port some day.”

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