Sailing the day away

Sailing the day away

Proving it’s never too late to learn a new skill, 102-year-old Dorothy Yeomans has gone sailing for the first time. The spritely centenarian was among 400 Uniting residents from around Sydney who attended the day out at the Sydney International Regatta Centre at Penrith on 4 April. The team at Uniting Springwood staged the annual event, which proved a crowd-pleaser.

“This event is the highlight of the calendar for the residents who take part,” said Kelly Sibbald, recreational activities officer at Uniting Springwood.

“It helps to break down the stigma attached to aging and shows that mobility restrictions are no barriers for those young at heart.”

The event marked the start of the NSW Seniors Festival (4-15 April), and shows seniors can have a great quality of life and learn and enjoy new things.

“It was truly wonderful,” said Mrs Yeomans when it was time to come back in. “The man who took me out told me all about how to control the boat and the words you use when you are sailing. I learned about the starboard side and the point of sail. It seems there is a lot to learn. I’d love to go again.”

Penrith MP Stuart Ayres officially opened the event and residents were treated to fishing, model airplane and boat displays, jet-pack displays and a three-course lunch as well as the sailing.

Ms Sibbald had the idea for the event while walking her dog in the area and noticing Sailability volunteers using a hoist to get people with disabilities in and out of a sailing boat.

“I asked them if they could do the same thing for our aged care residents and they replied ‘sure’. That was three years ago and the event has been growing since then.”

The sailing event, which is believed to be the biggest of its kind in Sydney, was held in partnership with Sailability, Sodexo, NSW Department of Primary Industries and NSW Department of Sport and Recreation.

This article originally appeared in the Blue Mountains Gazette and was also discussed on Studio 10 (the Uniting story starts at around the 8.30am mark). Watch more of this inspiring story in the video below.

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