Since registering as a charity in January 2019, AOTW have grown significantly over the last couple of years, awareness of autism is at an all-time high within the charity, we have helped autistic people get out on the water and we have been recognised not just within Scotland and the United Kingdom but further afield as far as America, Antigua, Australia and especially in Hong Kong.
We are proud to have had strong links with the city of Hong Kong where we have given various presentations at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, our ambassadors David Witt of SHK Scallywag from the 2017-2018 Volvo Ocean Race are based in Hong Kong where they work hard to promote sailing within Asia with their 100 Footer and Trimaran yachts.
We would like to really take AOTW to a new level at the beginning of 2020, we would like to send two autistic people aged 18 and 27 to take part in Hong Kong Race Week. This event is organised by the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club and around 200 dinghies take part in this event which is heavily focussed on youth and personal development. We have two people who are heavily involved with AOTW who we'd like to give the opportunity to travel to Asia and participate in this event.
The focus of this trip is not to win races (but they are an added bonus!) but the focus is teamwork, confidence on the water, development and communicating and of course raising awareness of the spectrum that they both have in their lives. One of our participants Max who has sailed with AOTW wrote this statement
"I was given a duel diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome and ADHD when I was 8 years old. Up until 4 years ago I lived in Livingston West Lothian. I didn’t have much encouragement from my school to take part in the sports I was interested in and spent most of my spare time gaming on my x box not really socialising. When I moved to Glencoe one of the first opportunities, I had at Kinlochleven high school was to attend a weeks sailing course with OYT I loved it, the team work and being at sea, Water has always been something that makes me feel Alive. I was lucky to live over the road from Glencoe boat club and began to volunteer as crew for Wednesday night races, the club welcomed me and I began to make a good social circle of like- minded people who encouraged me ,I left school and studied Maritime skills at college in Mallaig , by this time id really got the “Sailing bug! “Around this time the club also gifted me my own Keel boat which I renovated and have raced over the last couple of years. I also became marketing and publicity officer for the club and began organising events such as “Push the boat out” It was around this time that I first met Murray and learned about his charity. He welcomed me to race with him In the Oban Regatta where I got my first taste of racing in a sports boat I also had the opportunity to sail with him from Oban to Inverkip where we sailed the Crinan Canal with a group of Autistic children. During these experiences I’ve learned new skills from Murray! Going to Hong kong race week would be an opportunity of a lifetime not only in that I would experience a different culture but to take part in this race would be like the next step up for me! I’d love this chance to learn more, develop my racing skills, team work and hopefully inspire others on the spectrum to see that nothing has held me back from following my dreams to be out sailing and racing".
The event is taking place from 4th-9th February and we'd like to be able to have a weeks training with both Max and our second participant Perrine before the event starts with our coach and fellow trustee Hannah Stodel who is a paralympic sailor so we are looking at departing from Scotland for the event on the 26th January. This obviously does not give us alot of time and also is not cheap so we are looking at all aspects of funding we can find to get flights, accommodation, race fees and boat and powerboat hire fees all covered. Our goal is £15,000 to cover all our basic costs as detailed above and anything extra will be used for future projects for Autism on the Water.
We'd really appreciate any form of contribution big or small, if you can help us achieve this goal then you are helping two young Autistic people experience a possible once in a lifetime experience to take part in a high-quality sailing event together as a team.
Please feel free to ask us any questions you have about this project and if you choose to help us then please have a chat with us about how we can help you in return! Let's help both Max and Perrine get to the start line in Hong Kong and achieve and raise awareness.
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