I first encountered the great work that The Helmsman Project is engaged in while I was working as a school counsellor in greater western Sydney.
A student that I had been working with came in one day to show me a video that he had created of his experiences on the program and his passion for pursuing a career in the film industry. He was so proud of his work that he had presented it to the whole school, on stage, during one of the school’s weekly assemblies, this from a student who was struggling with self-esteem issues and anxiety.
Upon enrolling in the Masters of Coaching at Sydney University and discovering that the University was strongly associated with The Helmsman Project and that this course would allow me to work as a volunteer coach on this program, I applied for a position at the earliest opportunity. After an extensive and comprehensive introductory program run mainly by Michael Cavanagh, one of the founders of the Sydney University Coaching Unit and a world leading expert in the coaching field, I was engaged to work with eight amazing young girls from year 9.
The program challenged their perceptions of themselves, each other and their world view. It demanded that they find new and novel ways of approaching challenges, that required teamwork and collaboration. This was all done expertly in a well-supported and scaffolded way during 7 days sailing in an around Sydney Harbour and a 10 week coaching intervention combining both individual and team based coaching sessions.
One student stands out for me from this experience. During the program she came to realise that the opportunities which she figured were available to her, in terms of a career path, were far greater than she had ever imagined. Her perception of the world and her place in it had been fundamentally shifted.
Personally, my involvement with The Helmsman Project has challenged my conception of what coaching is and what it can achieve.
I have spent most of my career committed to working with children and adolescents with the stated aim of providing them an opportunity to be the best that they can be and I feel that The Helmsman Project is the greatest of the opportunities that I have had so far to pursue this goal and I look forward to working with The Helmsman Project for many years to come.