(Singapore, 22 October 2016) – When 14-year-old Ong Boon Teck first joined the Sailing and Sustainability Programme back in June, he did not know what quite to expect. Sailing was a sport new to the Orchid Park Secondary student and going sailing on the open seas seemed daunting.
Fast-forward five months at the third and final phase of the programme, an exciting two-day one-night expedition, held over 21 and 22 October 2016 at the Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) campsite, Boon Teck has not only know how to skipper a boat on the water, but he has also been equipped with a set of sustainability life skills to tackle the challenges life have to offer.
“In sailing, sometimes there are things that we don’t plan for like the lack of wind, for example,” said Boon Teck. “We just need to rough it out and persevere. These are the same skills and values that we can use in life as well. This programme, throughout the past five months, has taught me that.”
Into its third edition, the Sailing and Sustainability Programme (SSP) is a partnership between Singapore Sailing Federation and Metazone, a sustainability group whose objective is to provide learning opportunities for youth in need to find successful pathways by using sports to learn life skills and sustainability, and Outward Bound Singapore. SSP, a key element of the high-participation sailing calendar, targets secondary school students and exposes them to successful corporate mentors and university students, using sailing as a vehicle to facilitate the teaching of sustainability life skills.
Running parallel with character development principles, it targets the cultivation of leadership and teamwork among students aged 14-16 years old.
This year, six schools including Bedok South Secondary School, Damai Secondary School, Hillgrove Secondary School, Hua Yi Secondary School, Orchid Park Secondary School and Woodlands Secondary School participated in the three-phase five month programme with about 100 students benefitting from the innovative and unique sailing activities organized by the Singapore Sailing Federation and its partners. Running in conjunction with the SSP is the Big Brother and Big Sister Program, where university level students together with ‘graduates’ of the SSP play the role of youth camp leaders and skippers of the boats. There were altogether about 30 big brothers and sisters from across 8 schools (including NUS, NTU and SIT) that took part in the camp this year.
Held during the June school holidays, phase 1 saw participants visit the National Sailing Centre for a 4-day introductory programme. Students were introduced to the life skills while exposed to the basics of sailing in a fun and enjoyable way through activities that wrapped around values lf unity and excellence which are values in-line with sailors at the federation.
The second phase involved brought the students to Marina Bay over a couple of weeks to expand their sailing horizon while integrating the development of life skills of gleamed from sailing. Phase 2 provided all in the programme a rare opportunity to sail on the waters of the iconic Marina Bay.
In phase 3, students plunged into the deep end at an exciting sailing expedition from Changi Sailing Club to OBS at Pulau Ubin in the highlight of the SSP. A mentorship sharing session was followed by an afternoon of sailing on Pacers dinghies and keelboats to the popular outdoor education hotspot where students spent the night. The next day brought fresh adventures for the youths as they continued their mentorship on Pulau Ubin before ending the day at Changi Sailing Club.
Said teacher at Hillgrove Secondary Chung Pei Shi, “Sailing is a sport that requires many character qualities that can be applicable in life. I have seen my students grow from strength to strength in this programme. We are glad to have partnered SSF for this initiative and hope to see have more schools come aboard for this initiative.”
Singapore Sailing Federation head of High Participation, Kelvin Tan, said, “The SSP has grown from strength to strength over the past three years. We are very glad to have so many students participate in the SSP to learn values that can be used in both sailing and in life. It is encouraging to see participants gain confidence on the water as well as off it.”
Metazone founder, Jevan Tan, said, “The SSP allows our children to grow and learn with opportunities that may not be available if they just stayed on land. The water provides a unique environment to teach these skills and every time we do this programme, we are amazed at the potential of our children in neighbourhood schools. For every child here, we hope to see he or she attain the best they can and would love to see more children introduced to this concept of sustainability and sailing.”