Youth Sailing Foundation Expands Reach of Adaptive Program


Program Director Kym Helwig and student go sailing on the Indian River Lagoon.

Thanks to a grant from the John’s Island Community Service League, YSF will more than double the size of its Adaptive Sailing Program for local community members with special needs.   Started as a pilot program last fall, the classes quickly filled up with eight novice sailors, ranging in age from 14 to 61, and referred by The Arc and Special Olympics Florida.  The eager students sailed weekly, weather permitting, from October through April, and capped off the inaugural season by sailing a regatta in Naples.

The JICSL funding enables the program to accommodate up to twenty students for the 2019-20 season.  And this year YSF plans to include sessions for military veterans.  Sailing has proven therapeutic and calming for veterans with a variety of special needs, including veterans suffering from PTSD.  Caregivers and service animals are welcome.

YSF’s ADA compliant gangway, floating docks and a pontoon boat provide safe access to the Indian River Lagoon.   Out on the water the specially trained instructors sit side-by-side with the sailors in boats uniquely designed for simplicity, safety and security.  Students who develop the skills to sail solo are closely chaperoned by staff in nearby power boats.  Caregivers and family may observe from the pontoon boat, which serves as both launch platform and observation deck.

YSF’s Adaptive Sailing program is offered free of charge to any qualified Indian River County resident.

Classes are held Monday mornings and Tuesday afternoons beginning September 30.

For details and registration, please visit or contact program director Kym Helwig at


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