UKSA, the leading maritime education and training charity, is set to welcome a record number of primary school children from the Isle of Wight for a half-day free watersports session. The aim of the ‘Test the Water’ programme is to support young people to gain water-confidence alongside introducing them to sailing.
Unlike Test the Water in previous years, UKSA is opening this session up to both Year 6 and Year 7 students as young people missed out on this annual programme due to the pandemic.
The programme was designed to provide all Year 6 pupils on the Isle of Wight the opportunity to get on the water without the barrier of cost. Sailing is often viewed as an elitist sport and UKSA is seeking to change the stigma locally, providing all youngsters with the opportunity to experience the thrill of getting on the water, regardless of their background.
As well as covering aspects of water safety (vital for children living on an island), these sessions are designed to develop confidence and key skills. These include communication, resilience, and team-work. Learners are pulled out of their comfort zone in a safe and supportive environment.
Since 2014, over 6,000 Year 6 students have taken part in the Test the Water programme and this academic year (2020/21) 2,661 children (1,394 Year 6 and 1,267 Year 7) will have the opportunity to take part in a half-day session from 41 Island primary schools and eight secondary schools.
Ben Willows, CEO of UKSA, comments: “This year, we are working hard to accommodate Year 6 and year 7 students, so that young people don’t miss out on this experience due to COVID. The reality is that 34% of children on the Island live in poverty* and do not go on to reach their full potential. Test the Water has been developed to make a real, tangible difference to young people in our community. Many of these activities cannot take place without the support of funds raised from donors, companies and grant-makers.”