Each year 2,800 young people in the UK finish treatment. Happily survival rates are increasing, but studies show teens and young adults remain vulnerable post-treatment because it comes at a time of rapid social and emotional development.
In addition many young people have to deal with body image issues, with side-effects from temporary hair loss and weight gain to permanent scarring, amputation or brain damage, which often manifests itself in very low self-esteem.
A chasm exists between treatment and young people successfully reengaging with social, emotional, educational and employment norms. This is a gap the Trust fills and there are more young people than ever in recovery who need our help.
Without the Trust I would have been crippled with anxiety and unable to fulfill my potential.
To give young people the best chance to go on to achieve their future goals and ambitions, the first step is rebuilding confidence and reestablishing self-belief.
In the safe, supportive, fun and hands-on environment of a Trust trip, deeply personal experiences and worries are shared, often for the first time, friendships are rooted, new skills are learned, physical and mental boundaries are pushed, fears are overcome and being in hospital and on treatment feels like another world away.
They aren’t alone with having scarring, mobility problems or an amputation, for example, and everyone on the trip will understand better than anyone else what it’s like to go though such a life-changing experience as cancer.
- Help each young person regain confidence
- Improve their ability to plan for a future
- Support them in re-engaging with education and employment
Mixing with others who have had similar experiences is key, and the fact so many of our trip volunteers are now young people who first sailed with the Trust in recovery from cancer themselves makes a big difference.
Young people rarely get to meet others who have been through the same thing as them, and who know exactly what they are going through, so to see these volunteers rebuilding their lives and looking ahead to positive futures is aspirational.
Why sailing works:
“Sailing produces and develops positive individual characteristics, such as leadership, self-esteem, feelings of control, attitudes and fitness (Hattie et al, 1997). On a boat everyone has a role and new skills may be developed, boosting confidence.
“The small, physical boundaries of a boat are important in personal development, as it keeps the young people more engaged. The level of teamwork in sailing is also a major differentiator (McCarthy, 2013), encouraging the young people to work with each other and catalysing friendship formation.
“Young people benefit from their Trust experience in many ways and the Trust experience provides a challenging environment, facilitates social interaction and educational experiences, which positively enhances personal growth, motivation, confidence and independence.”
Roberts and Bull (2014) – Sailing as an intervention to enhance psychosocial wellbeing in children and young adults treated for cancer (Unpublished).