The fifth voyage of OYT Scotland’s “On Course with CashBack” project has just finished with nine young people from Scottish Sports Futures spending five days sailing around the Firth of Clyde. The young people learnt to navigate and steer the 70ft sail training yacht Alba Venturer, hoist and drop sails, tie knots and cook for the whole crew. Leaving Greenock’s James Watt docks on Monday morning, 5th June, the crew sailed a total of 135 nautical miles, visiting Holy Loch, East loch Tarbert and Loch Ranza (Arran).
The young people threw themselves into the experience, working hard to achieve the goals they had set themselves. New skills were developed throughout the week long voyage which they can now take back and use in their daily lives. One crew member explained; “My experience with OYT Scotland was amazing. I learned a lot about sailing as well as everyday personal and social skills. The experience was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am unbelievably lucky to have been a part of it”
The weather was very good for the first-time sailors with sunshine, clear views and fair winds. On day three of the voyage, the crew were graced by a visit from a 10 foot Minke whale right beside the boat! Seeing the wild sea creature that close “was one of the most breath taking moments of my life” said one of the young people on board, showing that OYT Scotland voyages help young people to understand more about the natural world and encourage conservation.
All the young people worked towards gaining the Royal Yachting Association’s Start Yachting Level 1 Award, and took the opportunity to complete 9 SQA qualifications in: listening, reading, speaking, writing, measuring, calculation, using graphical information, problem solving and working with others.
OYT Scotland’s “On Course with CashBack” project is transforming 288 young people’s lives over three years thanks to an award from the “CashBack for Communities” scheme – the Scottish Government’s proceeds of crime fund. Cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson said: “Through CashBack we are supporting many of Scotland’s most disadvantaged young people to reach their full potential in life, helping them to learn new skills, boost their confidence and develop as responsible citizens.”
Established in 2000, Scottish Sports Futures is a registered charity, delivering ‘Education through Sport’ programmes in communities across Scotland. Using inclusive sport and physical activity as a means of engagement, they offer young people creative ways to learn about physical wellbeing, goal setting, teamwork and active citizenship. Like OYT Scotland, Scottish Sports Futures is a recipient of the current CashBack for Communities phase 4 funding.
Supporting the young people to take part in the voyage were two group leaders from Scottish Sports Futures, Melissa Cairns and Sean Brady. They said “The OYT Scotland voyage allowed us to offer a completely new and challenging experience to young people from across Scotland. The daily routine allowed young people to build on practical skills including cooking and presenting in front of a group amongst many others. The voyage was a test for everyone including us as leaders but one which allowed us to work as a team along with the sea staff and push ourselves out of our comfort zones. We have 3 young people interested in volunteering with OYT Scotland in future which is an additional great outcome as we work towards finding positive destinations for these young people”
Nick Fleming, Chief Executive of OYT Scotland said: “We are excited to have young people from Scottish Sports Futures as part of the On Course with CashBack programme. OYT Scotland voyages offer young people a life changing opportunity, giving them a chance to take part in teamwork and leadership roles. These are transferable skills that can be used in other areas of their lives. This programme aims to develop young people and the group taking part in this voyage have demonstrated that it has been a success. Our highly trained sea-staff (both professionals and volunteers) are able to get the best from each individual. The combination of engaged group leaders and focused sea-staff means that these young people can reach goals that they never thought possible, and this gives them a new outlook on life”.
Over the past 18 years, OYT Scotland has grown to become one of the leading sail training charities in the world. With two sail training vessels, Alba Explorer and Alba Venturer, OYT Scotland completed 55 voyages with 552 young people in 2016.
For more information about OYT Scotland go to www.oytscotland.org.uk
For more information on Scottish Sports Futures go to www.scottishsportsfutures.org.uk
For more information on the Scottish Government’s CashBack for Communities scheme go to www.cashbackforcommunities.org