Blind World Magazine

Program teaches people with disabilities to sail. - IL, USA.
August 25, 2006.

Sailing on Lake Michigan is a wonderful way to enjoy the beautiful summers in Chicago. For people with disabilities it is an opportunity to achieve freedom and independence.

For more than 15 years, people with disabilities have been able to develop the skills to command a sailboat thanks to a unique adaptive sailing program.

This is the second year Terri Thrower has been sailing with the Judd Goldman adaptive sailing program. She is legally blind and has juvenile arthritis.

"They teach me how to use my assets which is the ability to feel the wind because I can't see the tale tells and stuff in the boat so I get to just sort of feel the water and the wind and got for it," said Thrower.

In addition to specialized on-water instructions, the fleet of sailboats is adapted for sailors with physical disabilities. Instructor

"They have an extra heavy 880-pound lead keel which keeps them from capsizing it keeps them upright it keeps them from rocking too much and being unstable there are adaptive molded seats that a disabled person can be put into with seatbelts and shoulders straps that make it very safe so they can't fall out. The lines are lead to one location on most places on the boat so that they can be reached easily by somebody who's less mobile," said Mike Jaffee.

The Judd Goldman sailing program is able to accommodate anyone.

"We have physically disabled people, amputees, we have visually impaired people, audibly impaired people. We have developmental disabled people," said Jaffee.

There is a fee for lessons.

"The lessons are $85 for six two-hour lessons which comes out to $7 an hour but the people can bring an able-bodied assistant along to help them out or just come out with them and be their partners so if you figure it that way it comes out to $3.50 a person but we don't exclude anyone from the program," said Jaffee.

With the help of the volunteer sailors, everyone can learn how to sail.

"The program will take a person who's never sailed or never been on a boat before and take them out and get them comfortable so they can feel safe and secure on the boat and teach them what the boat does," said Jaffee.

Jerwayne, 14, from the Illinois Center of Rehabilitation and Education, has been out on the boat three times.

"It's a passion, it's a lifelong pursuit that most people that enjoy it get the spirit of adventure to do," said Jaffee.

Even though summer is almost over, there's always next year. Sailing starts in May at Burnham Harbors. For more information visit

End of article.

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