Keen explorers from VisAbility set sail

Eight adventurous youths with vision impairment have embarked on a week-long Youth Explorer Voyage thanks to the support of VisAbility, Telethon and the Leeuwin Ocean Adventure Foundation.

The youths will undertake a seven-day Youth Explorer Voyage on the STS Leeuwin II from 16 – 22 December, departing and returning to Fremantle. On-board, they will develop their leadership skills, self-confidence and personal belief; to know that they can do anything, achieve anything, be anything.

During the voyage, youths will take part in a range of hands-on activities to run the ship, including navigating and taking the helm, setting and furling the sails, climbing the masts and working aloft, and standing watch while sailing through the night.

They will be given an insight to “what they see when at sea” through an audio-visual recording of their experiences during the voyage.

“This is a chance for eight youths with vision impairment to experience square-rigged sailing. It will be a week-long experience like no other,” said Ryan Honschooten, VisAbility Youth Support Officer.

“They’ll be surrounded by active friends, build their work-ready skills, add to their resumes and test their personal limits in a safe and supportive environment,” Ryan said.

The voyage is made possible through generous support from Telethon, and close collaboration with the Leeuwin Ocean Adventure Foundation.

Leeuwin Ocean Adventure’s Chief Executive Officer, Carol Shannon, said the Leeuwin team have really enjoyed working closely with VisAbility to make this voyage possible.

“Our crew have received special training from the VisAbility team, to ensure they are well equipped to support all vision impaired youth coming on board,” said Carol.

One of the major challenges for participants on Leeuwin’s week-long Youth Explorer Voyage is climbing up the main mast 33 meters above the ship’s deck.

“Making it to the top of the main mast is a huge personal achievement. Those who reach the top get to read a ‘secret message’ that is written in words and braille,” said Carol.

“The participants from VisAbility will be onboard with 24 other youth who are not vision impaired. At Leeuwin Ocean Adventure, we are advocates for inclusivity and developing leadership and communication skills in all youth, regardless of any impairment or disability they may have.”

Hear from some of the Youth Explorers from VisAbility
VisAbility asked the lucky Youth Explorers; Emily-Rose, Karin, Michael, Wayde, Darren, Chloe, Alan and Luke who secured a place on the trip, why the Leeuwin Ocean Adventure was important to them

Emily-Rose said, “The adventure will give me lots of self-confidence and help unlock my full potential!”

Karin said, “It would be a great opportunity to learn about navigation and sailing teamwork as part of a crew.”

Michael said, “I will give 100%. It is once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, to pass up the Leeuwin adventure would be an ill-thought decision.”

Wayde said, “I want to learn new things, and do difficult things and I will tackle any challenge.”