After taking part in this unique project provided by The British Exploring Society (BES) and The Jubilee Sailing Trust (JST) Roesie and her mother Angela were interviewed regarding her experiences:
How and why did you hear about the Infinity programme and BES?
Roesie – I saw it advised on the VICTA website, literally by chance.
What thoughts and feeling did you have when you first signed up? (i.e. anxious, nervous, excited)
Roesie – I was terrified, I was not confident at all.
Angela (Rosie’s Mother) – Roesie can loose confidence, she has high levels of anxiety
What were you first thoughts and feelings about the programme?
Angela – I wanted her to do it. I thought it was a good opportunity for her to mix with other blind kids and share any anxieties. However, I now think it was best that they weren’t all blind. It was more challenging. Roesie has impaired sight, but unlike many other children that are blind, she doesn’t have any other physical issues – therefore doesn’t really know many blind kids like her.
What was the expedition like day to day? What did you do?
Roesie – It was 9 days and it felt very long, it was very hard for the first six days.
What was the best thing about your experience?
Roesie – sailing the ship, going on the bow, right to the back. Looking out on to the sea, it was amazing, it was so tranquil.
What was the hardest thing about the experience? What challenges were there?
Roesie – I was on my own for a bit. The first night I was in my tent and I really needed to go out for a wee, but I could hear horses. I am scared of animals, especially horses! I had never carried a ruck sack before, I had bruises on my arm, one shoulder went numb. But It turned out I liked the walking a lot
What do you feel like you achieved?
Roesie – I feel like a different person. Before the expedition I had a bad summer. I was in by myself, anxious and panicky. I’ve come back a different person.
Angela – Roesie cried and struggled each day but the team worked with her to overcome her fears. She did that with the support of everyone. This experience pushed her to her limits.
Roesie – The no contact was hard! If I can do this, I can do anything
How would you describe the experience in one sentence?
Roesie – I can tell you in two words, it was life-changing
How are you applying what you learnt through the programme, to life back home?
Roesie – It is helping me with my rowing. Before I went, I wasn’t going (to rowing) and I was mentally struggling. I didn’t want to be away from my home, from my parents. The day after I got back from the programme, I just went to rowing. I didn’t think about it. It was only after that I realised that I just went for it. It has increased my independence.
Do you feel differently about what you can do/want to do, since the programme?
Angela – As a parent, I can see the difference. I didn’t think she could walk very far, but she did, with a rucksack and enjoyed it. She got on a ship, met new people, without the anxiety taking over.
If another person with a visual impairment, was thinking of taking part, but was undecided, what would you say to them?
Roesie – Grit your teeth and do it, they have no idea. Tell them to do it, tell them it would change their lives. It will give them the confidence to do whatever they want to do.
Angela – This is a fantastic opportunity. People may assume that the on expedition have money. This is helping the underprivileged and underrepresented and giving them the opportunity to do something that everyone else isn’t doing. It is a very special opportunity.