Profile: Sailing Program at Glenwarren Lodge

The BCCPA regularly highlights the excellent programs and services offered by our members. As part of this ongoing series, what follows is a submission provided to us by our member Revera Living.

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Photo Credit: DSV Victoria

The “Sailing Program” allows Glenwarren residents to go sailing in Esquimalt Harbor during the summer months. Glenwarren Lodge, in concert with Integration Recreation Victoria [RIV], takes 5-6 residents out to enjoy the freedom and exhilaration of heading out into the sea unhindered by physical limitations. 

For the past two summers Glenwarren Residents have been able to access this community resource three times a month during June, July and August. The program is conducted by Glenwarren Recreation Staff and the staff at Recreation Integration Victoria who have been specially trained in supporting persons with disabilities to safely sail. 

With special adaptive equipment residents are lifted and transferred into sailboats which have been designed to accommodate the needs of persons with disabilities. Two boats are used. One is a larger sailboat which seats four residents plus a Glenwarren staff member and an RIV instructor and volunteer.

The second boat is a small two-seater that allows a resident to have a solo sailing experience with their RIV instructor as well as steer the boat with a specially adapted tiller. In the large boat residents can sit back and enjoy the freedom of the outdoors, the scenic beauty, the sun, the sea breezes, the unrestricted movement and vastness of the sea, and perhaps the occasional passing seal. reveraliving

The response from residents, family and staff was an overwhelming WOW! The most common statement by residents was about “freedom” and “adventure” and “when’s our next trip.”

For one resident the outing rekindled her joy of sailing and brought back fond memories of the years she and her now departed husband spent aboard sailing vessels. For another resident, the experience brought back his years spent in the outdoors fishing and swimming in oceans, lakes and rivers. This same resident has reached a point where he engages minimally in most of the activities offered, but he lights up each time he goes sailing.

Residents have asked if the program will continue next summer and some now want to participate in RIV’s horseback riding program. Steve Silvers, Resident Services Coordinator, has spoken to many of the residents upon returning from a sailing trip and their relaxation and exhilaration was visible, and their responses were nothing but positive (except, perhaps, one day when there was no wind). The best word he could use to describe residents after their sailing trips is “happy.” 

Family members have been appreciative and delighted that Glenwarren would provide this opportunity to their loved-ones. Staff members returning from the sailing trips are both inspired and thrilled to have been involved in making this experience happen, to have shared this bond with the residents. 

Claire Pepper, Recreation Manager, was invited by the Family Council to do a presentation on the Sailing Program.

Some of the sailing trips have been videoed by Pepper and residents have been interviewed on video about what their sailing experience meant to them. 

For most of our residents, their possibilities, mobility and independence in life have been greatly reduced. One of the greatest accomplishments staff can achieve is to allow residents to overcome these restrictions. For many people, sailing is one of the great pleasures in life, symbolizing freedom, joy, beauty and vastness. Many of our residents no longer live for goals and future plans or aspirations. Their life is in the moment, and some of those moments are not as full as they would like. Most of our residents would not have imagined that they could ever again engage in an activity such as sailing.glenwarrenlodgesign

Sailing is about living in the moment, being fully alive. It is a true experience of quality of life. It enriches and enlivens the spirit of all who participate. It is a moment in the sun. It offers the thrill of fluid and easy movement to those for whom mobility is one of their greatest challenges. 

Take, for example, one of our residents. In her mid-fifties, she was living a full and active life with a career when she unexpected suffered a stroke, causing her to lose her ability to live independently and move into Glenwarren at a young age. She believed when she moved into a long-term care home her life would be severely limited. This client has worked hard to pursue as many activities as she can inside Glenwarren and in the greater community. She has constantly sought to enrich her life. She once told me about how she loves to swim, the freedom of it, but often it is difficult to make this happen. For this resident, the experience of sailing, being close to the water, to nature, and to be unrestricted has been liberating, inspiring and has given her great hope. In fact, after going sailing she said, “If we can do this, let’s go horseback riding next year.”

– Written by Steve Silvers and submitted to the BCCPA by Revera Living