UKSA (United Kingdom Sailing Academy) is a national maritime charity harnessing the power of the sea to transform the lives of thousands of young people each year. They are the largest RYA training centre in the world, providing schools and groups activity programmes, full time education courses and professional career training in yachting and watersports. They are a leading Maritime Coastguard professional training centre and run all of their activity from their all-inclusive residential facility based in Cowes, the home of sailing.
The Isle of Wight is a place very close to the Dick family, and so it was a quick and easy decision to work together with the UKSA to create a legacy in Polly’s memory.
Polly’s Challenge was born.
Polly’s Challenge is an on-water activity programme which was established in 2018 to offer Isle of Wight children, who would not usually have the opportunity, the chance to have fun, be adventurous and learn new skills in memory of Polly Birch. For a contribution of just £20 – which children are asked to raise through participation in sponsored activities - beneficiaries have the opportunity to take part in a five-day sailing or watersports programme during their school holidays; enabling them to try new activities, broaden their horizons and to develop valuable life skills.
In 2018, 33 children were able to benefit from this amazing programme, thanks to money raised by Polly’s family and friends at Polly’s Day. The children had an amazing time, with many discovering a real passion for sailing and watersports as a result of taking part; beneficiaries also reported a 27% improvement in their self-belief and resilience subsequent to the programme.
The on-going generosity, along with support from Children in Need, means they were able to offer this opportunity to 125 Isle of Wight children, aged 10-12, in 2019 as well as offer follow-on opportunities to beneficiaries for whom the week has sparked a real passion. Looking ahead, they wish to continue to provide these incredible opportunities to as many deserving young people as possible in memory of Polly; so would really welcome support to help them to achieve this.