Erie Adaptive Sailing Experience (EASE)
EASE, the Erie Adaptive Sailing Experience, is the only adaptive sailing program in Pennsylvania. This program is organized and run by a team of 20 dedicated volunteers. EASE is run entirely by volunteers! EASE, started in 2001, allows community members, primarily youth, with physical and mental disabilities to sail independently on Presque Isle Bay. BMC’s Access Dinghies and larger keelboats, accommodate a wide variety of mobility and developmental issues. Hoyer lifts help move sailors from wheelchairs into the boats. For some, this is a purely recreational activity that they can enjoy while their families participate on escort/safety vessels, networking with caregivers and other families. The kids are learning teamwork and perseverance. Some participants are learning the sport of sailing. BMC hosted the Access Dinghy North American Championships in 2004, drawing 18 contestants from San Francisco to Canada. BMC sails with the Shriners Hospitals for Children’s kids, Erie Homes for Children and Adults residents, Housing Authority City of Erie resident youth, the Barber National Institute participants, the Achievement Center patients, and visually impaired students from the Sight Center.
Specially designed Hansa Dinghies enable participants with a wide range of mobility issues to sail on their own. EASE participants enjoy the adventure and fun of sailing while experiencing enhanced independence, increased self-esteem and personal growth in a unique, therapeutic and recreational environment.
Volunteer coordinators work together with the kids and the families to give them an enjoyable experience. Each season is capped off with a family picnic on the BMC campus.