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  • Writer's pictureNic Fren

Sailability Wellington Receives $5,000 Boost from Trade Me Property Community Grant, Empowering People with Disabilities to Sail Towards Independence on the Water

A Wellington charity that helps people with disabilities find freedom on the water and learn how to sail has received a $5000 boost through a Trade Me Property Community Grant.

Sailability Wellington has been teaching people with disabilities how to sail since 2001, and was established after one of its founding members was approached by a wheelchair user at Evans Bay Yacht Club who wanted to learn how to sail.

The grant will go towards maintenance and administration costs, including storage, insurance and volunteer support. The charity was nominated for the Trade Me grant by Paul Doney and Sabine Chong, Business Partners for Tall Poppy Wellington Central and North.

Doney and Chong have a personal connection with Sailability through their son Xervier, who has Down Syndrome.

The family first became involved with the charity in Sydney when Xervier was six. Now 16, Doney says his son has gained independence through learning how to sail over the last ten years. “Sailing opens up a whole new world for people with disabilities.

There's something very freeing about being on the water. Sailability teaches sailing and water skills to people of all ages and abilities, with many going on to compete in national and international regattas.

“Maintaining and growing its fleet of boats can be expensive, and the last few years have been difficult for fundraising, which is why we nominated them for the grant, and are so glad they’ve been chosen to receive it,” he says.

As well as sailing with his son, Doney also volunteers with Sailability.

“I help set up and pack away the boats and have also started working with other children as Xervier becomes more independent; it’s a really rewarding experience”.

Sailability Wellington CEO Don Manning says their programme operates from three different sailing bases across the region, and they couldn’t do it without community support.

“On any sailing day, we may have sailors who are disabled due to vision impairment, intellectual disability, physical disability, acquired brain injury, autism or any other form of challenge.

Our sailors are accompanied by a companion skipper who ensures they enjoy their time on the water.

The sailor may learn to skipper the boat and even go on to join our race squad. “We keep our subscriptions as low as possible to make sure that everyone can afford to join - but as a result, we have to find around $60,000 a year to keep things running,” he says.

The Trade Me Property Community Grants were only introduced this year and have so far supported 18 different initiatives across the country. Real estate agents nominate their chosen charity or project.

Trade Me Property Sales Director Gavin Lloyd says what sets real estate agents apart is how deeply embedded they are in their local communities - allowing them to support not only individuals but a huge number of local causes.

“The support that our agents show Kiwi charities and causes has always been incredibly inspiring, and this year, we wanted to help them have an even bigger impact in their communities,” says Lloyd. Doney says it was important for them to give back to a community that warmly welcomed them after they moved from Australia to Wellington nine years ago.

“Our son has been welcomed into so many groups in the New Zealand community, Sailability being one of them, and we want to say thank you through our contribution” he says.


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