The Harvard sailing team is collaborating with Sail to Prevail for the 2016-17 season (Athletic Communications).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Harvard Sailing head coach, Michael O'Connor and the Crimson have been working with members of the Brighton, Allston and Cambridge communities through Sail to Prevail.
What is Sail to Prevail?
Sail to Prevail, the National disabled sailing program, is the largest and oldest disabled sailing program in the United States. It is a nonprofit therapy organization that specializes in teaching the sport of sailing to disabled children and adults. The mission of Sail to Prevail is to teach people with disabilities to overcome adversity and they may apply the same principles to their daily lives. More recently, Sail to Prevail has found that the program is having a similar effect on able-bodied people who have come in contact with the organization.
Sail to Prevail serves more than 1,500 disabled children, adults and veterans annually, the organization is based in Newport, Rhode Island and offers a satellite program in Nantucket, Massachusetts. Sail to Prevail works with nine distinct categories from both physical and intellectual areas, including children on the spectrum of autism, pediatric cancer, and paralysis. Most of Sail to Prevail programs are offered free of charge and always welcome people with any type of disability.
Paul Callahan is the Chief Executive Officer and founder of Sail to Prevail. Callahan graduated from Harvard College in 1985 and Harvard Business School in 1992. Upon graduation, Callahan was employed by the investment banking firm of Goldman Sachs and Co. Additionally, Callahan is a two time sailing Paralympian (London 2012 and Sydney 2000).
O'Connor believed that his student-athletes should share their skills sets with others who would never have the same opportunity. Equally, O'Connor believed his sailors should be encouraged to contribute to society as part of their overall education. He sought out Callahan, a Harvard graduate and accomplished sailor, to assist in bringing a new dimension to Cambridge for his sailors, as well as the local disabled community.
For the last three years, O'Connor has engineered a pilot program with Sail to Prevail, to enrich his sailors' college experience by teaching them to share their unique skill sets with disabled children and adults. In the fall, O'Connor integrates the Sail to Prevails' participants and their instructors to sail together with his varsity sailors on the Charles River in a specially equipped handicapped Catalina 20' sailboat.
Twice a week, O'Connor dedicates at least 15% of his overall practice to having the Harvard student-athletes learn from Sail to Prevail specially trained disabled instructors and subsequently, his Harvard sailors go on to teach the children with disabilities themselves. O'Connor has integrated this program right alongside his regular practice, so as to make the disabled participants feel that they are part of something greater and the Harvard sailors are learning firsthand on how to assist others.
The relationship between Harvard sailing and Sail to Prevail has now been thoroughly tested over the last three years and has become a unique and beneficial part of the Harvard sailing's team fabric.
To learn more about Sail to Prevail, please see their website.