Vitamin Sea Project launches at Chelmarsh SUP club
When on the lookout for a location and group of people to help run our Vitamin Sea Project pilot sessions, we could not have asked for more. Let us introduce the wonderful Craig Jackson, Operational Fire Officer, SUP instructor and all-around amazing human.
Craig and Seaful founder Cal met whilst Cal was paddleboarding down the River Severn in 2020, Craig’s local paddling spot, and a place which has meant a lot for his own well-being and connection to nature. You can watch the film of the River Severn expedition here, which features Craig and his comrades from Chelmarsh SUP club.
Craig reached out to us when he heard about Seaful and the Vitamin Sea Project to let us know about the Chelmarsh Sailing Club, 110 acres of sailing water on a reservoir set in the beautiful rolling hills of the South Shropshire countryside. Not only an idyllic setting but a team of skilled volunteers, all keen to help out. With Craig, Matt Loftus (MHFA Trainer Loftus Training Solutions), Debbie Cawte (Ex-Headteacher, Sailor and club volunteer) and James Sutherland (Water/Road Safety Officer Shropshire Fire Service, SARA Volunteer, SUP instructor) The Vitamin Sea Project was brought to life.
We were honoured to be offered such a wonderful setting, and with Craig and the team’s support, we invited 40 children over 2 days from Lanesfield Primary School in Bilston to take part in our pilot session at Chelmarsh. Many of the children had not previously experienced water let alone Stand-Up Paddleboarding.
After a coach ride to the club and an introduction to Seaful, the children (with the wonders of technology) received a welcome from charity founder Cal Major and Seaful COO Lorna Evans who were 400 miles away in Scotland filming for Vitamin Sea TV.
With glorious sunshine, the children took part in 3 different activities over the course of the day.
– Mental Health Session: Matt Loftus ran a fun and ingenious team-building exercise focusing on plastic and the impact it can have on nature, the oceans and our drinking water. Matt then ran an open discussion about anxiety and stress, teaching the children some key tools they could take with them in their day to day lives.
– Nature Walk: Debbie Cawte took the children on a walk along the dam wall. The children discussed the water they saw, learning that it’s where their drinking water comes from, and about its source, the River Severn, and how that ties into the ocean and plastic pollution.
– Paddleboarding experience: Craig Jackson, alongside James Sutherland, helped the children to work together to build a raft. They then stayed silent and listened, felt the water, smelt the air. A time to reflect on their hard work building the raft and the different sensory experiences water brings. After which they moved onto fun & games, of course, everyone enjoyed a soaking!
Initially, some of the children were apprehensive or frightened, having not ever experienced water in this way and being unsure of what to expect. But with the coaching of the talented instructors, they soon felt at ease and were given the opportunity to experience the water in a safe way. During the day there were many emotions from both participants and coaches, as well as lots of excitement and joy, even from those who initially were unsure.
“At times you could see it was like a light bulb moment of happiness. The children said that they felt calm and relaxed during the mindful sessions on the water, they heard Seagulls and the water splashing against the board” said Craig about the paddleboarding experience.
Before heading back to the coach the children proudly received certificates of completion which were very well deserved. With some saying “I’ve had the best day ever”, “I loved all 3 activities” and lots of thank yous.
The Vitamin Sea Project provides in-person experiences of ocean and waterways, with the hope of nurturing new and ongoing personal connections to the water. The sessions acknowledge the mental health benefits of being in nature and inspire and empower the next wave of ocean advocates.
The pilot sessions at Chelmarsh were a huge success and we are looking to roll more of these sessions out in different locations, and of course lots more with the team at Chelmarsh who we can’t even begin to thank enough; a very special group of people.
If you would like to find out more, run sessions or nominate a group of people to take part in these sessions please email [email protected]
These sessions would not have been possible without the help of Chelmarsh SUP club and the volunteers on the day, Craig Jackson of SUP Shropshire, and the Midcounties Co-op. With huge thanks also to Palm Equipment for loaning buoyancy aids for the sessions.