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DoSomething Day

DoSomething Day: Volunteer sailing program helps get people with a disability onto the water

Do Something Day

WATCHING Alyse Saxby deftly sail her small boat across the water, you can see she was born for it.

But the two-time gold medallist at the Special Olympics, who has an intellectual disability, may not have had her chance to shine if it were not for a group of volunteers sailors who donate their skills and time for a great cause.

DoSomething Day on June 15 is a national day to celebrate such volunteering in all its forms.

Launched by NewsLocal newspapers, the DoSomething charity and Your Local Club, it urges everybody to do something positive.

At age 15, ten years ago, Saxby got her start in sailing through the Integrated disAbled Sailing and Sailabilty programs offered to students at Pittwater High School.


Alyse Saxby at the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club. Picture: Braden Fastier

The program encourages students with mental and physical disabilities to learn to sail, recreationally and, in Saxby’s case, competitively.   The moment she floated out onto the water, her coach Bob Hamilton knew she had a gift.  “You can see her eyes glisten whenever sailing is mentioned,” the 70-year-old veteran said.  “When she first went out, she did so well, she had a natural instinct for it,”

“She is in control of the boat, she is the skipper, seeing her develop from when she first went out until now — it’s been truly amazing.   “Some people would say that that’s a lot to put on someone like Alyse, but she has done it every time.”

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