Erie Adaptive Sailing Experience (EASE)
The Erie Adaptive Sailing Experience, or EASE, was founded in 2001 and has run for 17 consecutive summers providing maritime opportunities for those individuals with mental and physical challenges. The program is organized and run by a dedicated team of volunteers who donate their Fridays to the program throughout the summer.
EASE (Erie Adaptive Sailing Experience) 2017 Program Highlights
1. Number of Participants: 44
2. Disability Range of Participants: Autism, Intellectual Disability, Learning Disability, Downs Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Visually Impaired, ADD, Seizure Disorders, Behavior Disorders, Epilepsy and Asperger’s Syndrome
3. Age Range of Participants: 5 to 40 years old
4. Number of Volunteers: 43
5. Total Number of Volunteer Hours: 1600 annually
6. Vocational Occupations: Special Education/Regular Education teachers, Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, Speech/Language Therapists, Psychologist, Assistant Prison Warden and Guard, Local Businessman, College students, High School students, parents of participants, School Administrators, retired Fireman and retired Fish and Game Commission officer, Gannon University Physical Therapy instructor and various retired professionals.
7. Program Goals for 2018: We would like to replace the steering of one of our original boats “The Mark” and upgrade the rigging on our two new boats. We would also like to make some improvements to the pontoon for inclement weather.
8. Quote from Directors, Bren and Kathy Lindell: “Our dream for the EASE program was and is to provide an experience not just for our “sailors”, but for their families. We have four parents who volunteer weekly along with two siblings and the majority of our sailors return year after year. Our picnic this year was our largest to date and we would like to thank all who help make EASE such a special program!”
EASE, the Erie Adaptive Sailing Experience, is the only adaptive sailing program in Pennsylvania. This program is organized and run by a team of 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.