Courageous is the largest organization of its kind in the Boston area to offer free sailing programs and activities to people with autism, developmental disabilities, blindness, and diabetes. These programs have produced regional, national and even world champions! With Courageous, members of these populations (mostly youth and young adults), who regularly find themselves barred from sailing and similar activities, gain a variety of physical, social, and psychological benefits, many of which are unique to the experience of sailing itself. While sailing in majestic Boston Harbor, participants build skills in teamwork, physical coordination, self-reliance, abstract thought, and leadership as well as technical knowledge of a dynamic sport. These elements rarely coincide in other activities open to these groups.
At Courageous, the goal is not only to improve our existing opportunities for these groups, but to expand them as well. Courageous provides the special know-how, equipment, support, and understanding, while working to expand the breadth and depth of personnel training in these areas. In doing so, Courageous can continue to provide more and more people with blindness, diabetes, autism and other developmental disabilities with the opportunity to experience the unique joy and exhilaration of sailing.
Beyond offering the simple pleasures of the sport, the goals of Courageous Enabled Sailing programs are that our participants gain: (A) knowledge of sailing, the environment and leadership. (B) Intrapersonal strength, including self-confidence, self-esteem, well being and sense of adventure. For blind and developmentally disabled youth, taking the helm of a sailboat and navigating it is an incredibly empowering experience, one that instills pride, self-confidence, and a sense of capability. (C) Interpersonal skills, including teamwork, communications, conflict resolution, and sense of belonging. The experience of sailing with a crew and executing maneuvers as part of a team counteracts the feelings of isolation and loneliness that blind, developmentally disabled and autistic children are often subject to. (D) Close contact with and commitment to the natural environment of Boston Harbor. (E) Improved motor and coordination skills that the sport of sailing requires. (F) The calmness and confidence that sailing in such a beautiful locale instills in all those who do it, but that is most especially beneficial to autistic and other developmentally impaired individuals. The skills gained through our collaborative programs will remain with them long after they have stepped off the boat and become more closely connected to their families, classrooms, jobs, and communities.
The programs at Courageous primarily serve youth and young adults with disabilities ranging from intellectual and developmental disabilities such as autism to blindness and insulin-dependent diabetes. We reach these populations through our partnerships with The Barton Center for Diabetes Education and their Summer Adventure Programs, Special Olympics of Massachusetts, The Carroll Center for the Blind and the Heart of Sailing Foundation.