Friday June 1st 2012 was international childrens day, celebrated in Cape Verde with a bank holiday, to allow parents to spend the time with their children.
I decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to introduce windsurfing and water sports to 30 Children, from the charity Castelos do Sal. These children come from various deprived and or neglected backgrounds in Santa Maria and are generally left to fend for themselves around the streets of town throughout the days. Instead Castelos do Sal is doing fantastic work ensuring that the children go to school and that after school they participate in extracurricular activities, additional classes and also that they receive food and health care.
Back in January of this year I met with the charity staff to propose the idea a day of water sports and beach activities for all the children. Although ½ of the children (despite living not even 100meters from the sea) are unable to swim, we decided that it would be perfectly possible to arrange a day on the beach for all of them. The windsurf centres Club Mistral and Surf zone agreed to close their centres for the event and provide us with windsurfing equipment and even their own teaching staff for the day.
So on Friday morning we collected the first group of 15 extremely excited children, who leapt into the back of the two awaiting pickups with much singing and cheering all the way through town and over to Club Mistral. All the kids had a taste of windsurfing; those that could swim actually had introductory lessons whilst those who couldn’t swim had the chance to sail out and around the bay sat on the boards with an instructor. The jet ski rescue cover soon became the hit of the day, stealing the lime light as every child had a go on the jet ski under the watchful guidance of Phil Bennett and Aron Waterfield. Some old surf boards were given to those kids not out windsurfing / on the Jet ski and they soon busied themselves playing in the small shore break surf whether they could swim or not it didn’t seem to make any difference as they dived into the sea. Jim McCann also came down with some to give assistance with water activities, games on the beach: juggling, parachute game, hoola hoops and more, all of which provided plenty of entertainment for those that tired of the sea. Ian O’Doherty and Kirk Waterfield taught other children how to fly the Kitesurf using trainer kites on the beach. After 3 hours there were plenty of huge grins and exhausted children who were very grateful to receive their sandwiches and drinks kindly provided by Sal Beach Club.After a much quieter trip back to Castelos do Sal we prepared ourselves for another full on afternoon How to get the kids out of the water
Many many Thanks to every volunteer that came down to help, not mentioned above but of equal help were Paula and Camillo Mariana, Linda Aspden, Cheryl and all the Casetlos do Sal staff. Thank you also to Club Mistral and Surfzone for putting aside the time, staff and equipment for all the children and to Sal Beach Club and Hotel Morabeza for providing much needed drinks and snacks for the children.
The day was a great success, the children were exceptionally well behaved and most importantly all seemed to have a great time leaving with huge smiles, which was the aim of the day. Hopefully we will be able to repeat this again soon and I hope to be able to raise some money to purchase some equipment so that Castelos do Sal can incorporate water sports activities into the extracurricular activities on a more permanent basis.
Thanks to everyone