I work in Letterkenny two/three days a week. These are, what my youngest nephew calls “days on”, which I suppose makes sense, since weekends with no work (or school in his case) are days off. It’s a phrase my family use regularly now!
Anyway, today was a day off, and apart from getting up early and doing my shopping in the morning, I had no plans for the rest of the day. The weather was going to be very hot, so I wanted to do something outside. My mum’s students were going sailing, and she rang to tell me there was room on the bus if I wanted to come. I’ve heard about the great work that
do, and I’ve wanted to go sailing for ages, so this last minute decision was a great opportunity.
Sailability provides opportunities for people with disabilities to experience being on a boat. The boats can also take wheelchair users, without them needing to transfer. The staff are so friendly and helpful, making everybody feel welcome, and encouraging them to participate. Our group went on the big boat first, and then I was taken out in a dinghy with one of the staff members. Small boats freak me out more than big ones do, but they were both really relaxing. It was funny to be in the middle of the river Foyle, going under the bridge that we drive over so many times without thinking. I’d love to have had the opportunity to try sailing, but it wasn’t possible with the number of students. I’ll just have to come back another time.
Apart from the Sailability organisation and what they do, I was really impressed by the students that I spent the day with. If you have a stereotypical view of people with autism (which thankfully I don’t), the four boys would make you think twice. They dealt with changing plans, lots of waiting around, following instructions and making conversation with no problems. Like all pupils, they have very different personalities, likes and dislikes, and it was nice to get to know them a bit more. Spending time with them is always great fun. One of them became my new friend today. When he saw me on the bus, he asked where O.J was, because he’s afraid of dogs. When I told him he was at home, asleep in his bed, he was happy, and actually spent time sitting beside me during the day. Although he instantly associated me with the dog, he obviously didn’t see me in any negative way, which was great.
When we got back to the school, a barbecue had just finished, and the students were having
lime-dancing lessons out in the yard. I’m not a dancer, but it seemed like fun!
I got a huge welcome home from the dogs, and spent the evening celebrating my dad’s birthday with dinner and cake.
So all in all, it was a very unplanned, but very good day. Tomorrow is a “day on”, but I can’t really complain.