There are many children who find taking part in team games or playing with balls quite difficult. Maybe for what ever reason their co-ordination is not great, maybe they lack confidence, maybe they have difficulty walking or running. As a parent it can be frustrating knowing that they have energy that needs using up but at the same time where to go and what to do, often this is expressed as anger which can also be frustrating.
At Lagoon Watersports we have had a lot of experience with people who find many activities and day to day situations very challenging. Water is very therapeutic whether you are on it or in it. Being able to manoeuvre a piece of equipment, whether it be a boat, a stand up paddleboard, a kayak or even a windsurfer across it can be really satisfying.
Although they are welcome to learn in a group some people prefer to get the basics on their own with an instructor and that is fine. The instructor will take the individual, introduce them to what ever piece of equipment it is they are learning to use and at the speed of the pupil get them out on the water and sailing or paddling. Some pupils will take longer than others to grasp it but that is not an issue, the main thing is that they succeed and they all will.
I can speak of so many success stories. A few years ago a group of special needs children came to Hove Lagoon, most of them had emotional and behavioural problems. One very angry young boy, who would not speak unless he was shouting his dissatisfaction at something, took an interest in a sit on kayak. Every week he paddled the same kayak in the same direction and would not take part in anything else. Gradually he started to talk and develop as a person. Due to his situation he was not able to follow a class but watched other people. In a short space of time it was understood that the watersports were having a huge affect on him and he became a member He began to interact with other members, became an amazing sailor, learnt to windsurf and even was able to help out on courses and events. He is now a true character. This is the story or many other children.
Another example is of an autistic adult who was keen to learn to wakeboard. At the start his mother had to come and book him in as he was not able to speak to the staff at reception. He would only ride when it was very quiet so that he did not have to be in the situation of talking or mixing with other people. Eventually he became a member, was able to ride at busy times and the most exciting day for him and us was when he did his first competition. He has gone on to do more competitions and has won prizes. Again a lovely person who has grown in to what he was meant to be.
The centre has also worked with groups of visually impaired people from Blind Veterans UK. Some of the people who have taken part in wakeboarding and paddleboarding are not only unable to see, they are also amputees. A lot of the group are youngsters but not all of them, the oldest was in his eighties. With help and encouragement from the staff theses inspiring people did all the activities they had set out to do.
Watersports really are for everyone, there are many more success stories. The staff at Lagoon Watersports have been fortunate enough to deal with so many people with so many difficulties that they can normally find a way to get anyone and everyone out there enjoying themselves.