Taking and managing risks is an important part of our lives. Often this is done in crisis situations, and other points in our lives where we might feel out of control. This is the experience of many young people. For some it can lead to further issues, but for others it can lead to courage and resilience. It can also be difficult for young people to find meaningful and appropriate opportunities where they are respected, valued, and supported.
Workers from our Project Z project know this to be true, and their collaborative work with young people seeks to help them recognise these qualities and more. Qualities that have been gained through lived experience. None of us can change our past, but we can take charge of our future. We need reminders of this, and the All-Aboard Watersports session organised by the team have been immense fun for the young people, while being a time to express their confidence, resilience and ability to take positive risks; all things needed for a stronger future.
Getting into a kayak in the busy environment of Bristol’s Cumberland Basin is no mean feat. As well as the obvious challenges of staying afloat, there are boats, ferries and other water-going travellers. After safety briefings, our young people took to the water instantly and negotiated all these things. Self-care, looking out for each other, and discussing their experience as it was happening could all be seen in action. One even removed litter from the river to be recycled. The sessions have also been great moments of teamwork, creating shared memories and reminding us all that the things we learn in challenging times can also be the things that allow us to go forwards into the better times of life.
Back on dry land there was a sense of achievement in the air: “That was awesome!” “I never thought I could do that!” “I can’t believe how far we went!” The group had paddled to both ends of the floating harbour, confident individuals traveling together as a team, sharing a new experience, and taking the opportunity to galvanise the qualities that make them resilient, sensitive and hopeful young people.
Thank you to all the team at All-Aboard Watersports for providing these incredible sessions free of charge.