We’ve been touting sailing as a wonderful family activity, and tremendous recreational therapeutic endeavor for anyone with a disability for years. But I often feel that few really understand or know the real intentions and goals of the Challenged America program, even though it’s stated in our mission statement:

… to further rehabilitation, enhance life experiences, and foster the competitive spirit of youth and adults with disabilities toward successful mainstream outcomes.

In simple terms, Challenged America uses sailing as a rehabilitative “tool” to further the goals and objectives of the charity, the Disabled Businesspersons Association (DBA). We strive to have individuals with disabilities, of all ages, to contribute back to the community through employment, self-employment and business ownership, volunteering, and returning to school. Yes, Challenged America is a form of vocational rehabilitation, and we’ve discovered it’s much more.

Since 1978 we’ve experienced, aboard Challenged America vessels, just about every type of disability one could imagine, both physical and psychological. And we are satisfied to know that thousands have had a true, often first-time sailing experience with the program. Challenged America has opened the door (or is it “hatch”) to many who, without Challenged America, they and their loved ones would not have had the experience. Advancing the sport of sailing is definitely a by-product of our effort.

But the benefits of sailing at/with Challenged America has proven to be much more than sailing. Here are but a few examples.

  • It’s a rehabilitative activity that enhances wellness and mitigates secondary medical conditions for many participants.
  • A number of participants with chronic pain had claimed (temporary) relief, and a great night’s sleep (without bedtime medications), after a day of sailing in our small boats.
  • Those with diabetes, who sail, claim to have better control of their blood sugars, and require less medication, with the physical, outdoor activity of sailing at Challenged America.
  • We have seen a number of those suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), find peace, relief from anxiety, clearer thoughts, and self-confidence when sailing, and a more restful night’s sleep after being on the water.
  • The blind find a unique environment when sailing that best utilizes their other senses, when sight loss occurs. A new experience and a new skill they can quickly master.
  • We are discovering that those with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) find sailing as a tremendous mind stimulator and reflex enhancer, coordinating and connecting of various body movements to make the sailboat move through the water.
  • Many in the Autistic spectrum have welcomed sailing, especially in smaller boats, as the experience of being close to the water while underway and wrapped in the cocoon-like seat, with the Martin 16 sailboat’s narrow hull, provides a comfort and self-confidence builder as they zip through the water, with a sports car like speed sensation.
  • The deaf and hard of hearing welcome sailing, especially when the wind is blowing hard and the sensation of the boat’s heeling and slashing through the water gives them an excitement often never experienced previously. They then discover that everyone has diminished hearing when the wind pipes up while sailing.
  • And many of those with severe and catastrophic physical disabilities are elated to be able to actually sail a boat themselves, having full control and freedom over the vessel’s direction. A mobility and independence seldom experienced in other daily life or recreational activities..

Yes, Challenged America is much more than just a “sailing program” for the disabled. It’s a life-experience that many take on as a new life-style. It’s a driving force for them to do other things and, once again, be active and contributing members of society.

And as a therapeutic program under the charitable Disabled Businesspersons Association (DBA), participants in the Challenged America program have one of the nation’s leading authorities on the self-employment and back-to-work of disabled available to them. And many Challenged America participants have been assisted in their back to school, work or launch of a small business, with the charity’s help.

So, we hope you consider Challenged America in your gift-giving intentions. Your support is critical to the DBA’s Challenged America program in keeping its mission to serve the needs of those with disabilities – youth and adults, seniors, and disabled veterans.

Sooner or later (as many sponsors, supporters and volunteers have already discovered), you or someone you love or know will need Challenged America or the Disabled Businesspersons Association. Your support today will insure that we are here for you, when you need us.

Thank You. – Urban Miyares, president Disabled Businesspersons Association & Challenged America co-founder.

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