A positive story today of serendipity, success and future ambition, all about the profound impact of taking a chance and how that can change the path we walk. How a 10 year old boy who first came to The Official Test Centre having never tried windsurfing before, has had his life enriched. Little did Alex or his mum realise that when he came with his school for some well-being sessions, how profound those sessions would become. After six sessions he was hooked, he was confident and he couldn't wait to keep on windsurfing. His mum booked him in for The Holiday Activities and Food programme (HAF), he has found his thing, he is smiling, confident and has plans to join The OTC Team15 club after the summer. This is an extraordinary story of how a life can be transformed by giving youngsters who may not get the opportunity to try windsurfing the chance to jump on board and open doors to new horizons.
By Emma Nicholson.
Meet Alex Brown, aged 10, he attends Conifers Primary School, Weymouth and enjoyed six well-being sessions with a small group from his school, generously funded by The Chesil Trust, after the success of the well-being sessions he was then booked onto The OTC HAF programme during the summer holidays. HAF is a Department of Education funded programme to support children who are in receipt of pupil premium or benefits related free school meals to access enriching activities and food during the school holidays.
Alex plans on joining The OTC Team15 club after the summer and has big dreams about his windsurfing, there is no limits to his dreams and thanks to the foundation of his well-being sessions, he has found a love for windsurfing and found a more confident self!
Alex's mum Tracey said: “He came home after that first well-being session and he said, mum I am windsurfer of the week, I said you have only done today and I said how does that happen and he said, I don’t know I have only done today, I thought he has taken to this like a duck to water!
“His confidence went through the roof during the six well-being windsurfing sessions. Every single week he was excited to come back. Windsurfing is his favourite, he has never tried windsurfing before, he is not the most confident swimmer but he has definitely improved since coming windsurfing.
“When I found out they were doing HAF sessions through the summer I thought he has to do it. 100%.
“Alex is not very sociable, but at The OTC he talks to everyone in his little group, that was the whole idea behind bringing him here in the first place, so it has definitely worked. His confidence has built so much, he is a very anxious boy, but he knows he is good at windsurfing so this has definitely built his confidence and so hopefully he'll have a future career in it, he is interested in carrying on, he's gonna be carrying on.
“He is coming to Team15 he's starting that in September we've booked him throughout the summer and and then he's going to be doing Team15 from September and he's already booked into a couple of weeks into October as well, so this isn't just a summer thing, it has lit a little spark in him.
"He literally wants to do this all the time, he's found his thing. I think his teachers wanted him to do the sailing, but Alex he's like no and they went Oh no not the boards and he went Yep its the board I love it.
"He's found something that he's going to carry on doing 100%. What an opportunity this has been for him 'cause unfortunately due to disabilities and I've got mental health problems and I can't work so there's no way I'd be able to afford it and my husband has got physical disability so this experience has been good for us as a family.
His sister is doing it for the first time this week with Alex and she's 16 and my Alex is 10 and she's like Alex you'll have to help me with doing and he's like yeah sure so hopefully she'll get some confidence too as well so there together."
"His confidence went through the roof during the six well-being windsurfing sessions. Every single week he was excited to come back."
Alex said: "When I was asked by school to be part of the windsurf wellbeing group it made me feel really excited and very special to be chosen as one of six. My teacher Mr Lyon explained that not only were we going to learn to windsurf but, we were also going to have help with becoming more confident, better communicators, making new friends and team work, becoming more independent and creative.
"Every week on our course we had a chat at the start of each session with the instructors to talk about which aim we were going to work on that week, the winner won windsurfer of the week and got to wear the special vest the next week. I won the vest on the first week for confidence, I felt really happy and proud of myself.
"The best session was probably the last one, this was week six. We went on the power boat into the middle of the harbour and windsurfed back to The OTC.
I never thought that would ever have had the confidence or the ability to windsurf as well as I now can.
"I have mild anxiety and when I go to the swimming pool it makes me feel a bit panicky about my breath in the water. I don’t have this feeling when I’m windsurfing because I know that I can always float as I have a buoyancy aid.
"After learning to Windsurf with the OTC, I was lucky enough to learn to sail with the Andrew Simpson Foundation. I love both sports but prefer windsurfing. I like standing on the board and falling in it is great fun.
"This summer I am taking part in the OTC HAF holiday club. It gives me extra fun times on the water and practice on my windsurfing skills. In September and October I am joining the OTC Team 15 club where I will come after school once a week and continue my windsurfing.
"I would congratulate any of my friends who were chosen to take part in this amazing program. I would tell them that it is loads of fun and that they must take part, for me it’s a new hobby that I am very good at and really enjoy."
"I have mild anxiety and when I go to the swimming pool it makes me feel a bit panicky about my breath in the water. I don’t have this feeling when I’m windsurfing."
The OTC Schools Project Coordinator Kerry Knight said: "Alex was part of the Wellbeing Program which began in April. He completed six weeks of Windsurfing followed by six weeks of Sailing. Alex has explained perfectly what the sessions were about and how pleased he was with his progression.
"Alex joined us as a complete novice and now has the knowledge and practical skills to get him windsurfing around. What is truly outstanding about Alex is his kindness and caring nature, he is a lovely young man to have around the centre, always happy to help his friends and offer words of encouragement.
"We are thrilled that Alex has adopted windsurfing as his new sport. Through funding from the Chesil Trust, he has joined Team 15 our after school club. This provides the opportunity for young people to spend time on and around the water with like minded peers, having fun and progressing their skills.
"Alex is also in our HAF (Holidays, activities and Food) club this summer and thoroughly enjoying this time with us. It is also lovely to see his Mum cheering him on from the sidelines and his sister has also joined in to see if Windsurfing is for her (watch this space).
"We feel honoured to be able to support the wellbeing of the local young people in our community through our windsurfing programs. We are looking forward to welcoming more young people from Weymouth and Portland schools in Autumn term to take part in our popular wellbeing program. "
"We feel honoured to be able to support the wellbeing of the local young people in our community through our windsurfing programs."
Feeling inspired? Book a windsurfing taster for you or your youngster and see what being on the water could do for you, book online https://otc.sailia.co.uk/booking_v2/main/ or by phone 07817 717904.