DAME Awards

Little Optimist: Building an academy with help from METSTRADE

Greg Bertish
Friday, 3 April 2020

This blog was written by South African Greg Bertish, founder of the charity called ‘The Little Optimist’. Greg’s charity uses sailing as a means to help children who are vulnerable, either due to compromised health or poverty. During the opening of the last METSTRADE Show, The Little Optimist received half of the proceeds from the DAME Design Awards. The other half went to charity ‘Sailing4handicaps’. Since then a lot has happened for the South African Charity:

This year has had a wonderful start for The Little Optimist. Of course until this Covid 19 pandemic, which has put a stop to all our activities like most others.

We were lucky to have been able to finish building and then officially open our little academy. and host the first sailing therapy day for 10 kids from St. Josephs Children’s home.
The opening was a special occasion and was attended by sponsors, sailors, Sail and Leisure Magazine, members from South African Boat Builders (SABBEX), Ullman Sails, Two Oceans Marine, NPO’s, the public and the St. Josephs home staff. The new academy is based at Zeekoevlei Yacht Club in Cape Town, and will serve to offer sailing therapy and life skills to disadvantaged communities and children. These kids are all compromised, be it socio economically or health wise.

The kids from St Josephs ranged in age from 8 to 14 and were either HIV positive, past Tuberculosis patients or had suffered brain trauma of some sort. The afternoon for the kids consisted of an introduction, and inspirational talk by Greg Bertish, followed by basic sailing theory and an introduction to boats, sailing, water safety, sustainability and ocean conservation. This was hosted by Sailing instructor Lance, and assisted by Greg.

After the opening, the kids all then got to experience their first time on a boat and their first time ever sailing. It was magical, fun and special for the kids and all involved. The kids then had a debrief, received their certificates and a personalised copy of The Little Optimist Book each in their native languages, before joining the adults and dignitaries for Cake and tea and the official opening of the Academy.

Once the Corona pandemic is over, we plan on hosting many more sailing therapy days and launching our Africa Sailing Therapy project. Huge thanks to METSTRADE and DAME for making this possible.

- More information can be found on the charity’s website: TheLittleOptimisttrust.org
- Marine-related charities can still apply for the proceeds of the 2020 DAME Design Award. More info can be found here

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