Client: Set Sail for Autism Benefitting OUCARES
Challenge: Despite significant increases in awareness and understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), there is still a lack of employment opportunities for individuals affected by ASD. The goal of Set Sail for Autism is to find a way to continue to educate and bring awareness of their abilities to fulfill technical tasks to the professional community.
The Solution: By partnering with the sailing community and creating opportunities for young adults with ASD to have the incredible experience of helping to sail racing yachts back to Port Huron and Chicago following the Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac and the Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race, we are able to showcase the talents and skills of these individuals. Sailing a racing yacht on the Great Lakes takes incredible focus and Set Sail’s ASD sailors are able to demonstrate their ability to learn quickly and handle challenging tasks. Additionally, ASD individuals that have an interest in film, photography, journalism, web development and social media gained real world experience through the creation of marketing materials and documenting the trip.
Through a special free event at the start of the race we are able to provide a safe, friendly environment for families impacted by ASD.
Results: Set Sail for Autism has quickly gained traction as one of the most compelling events of the racing season. Each year, the program has grown exponentially with additional participants in all aspects, leading to job contacts and positions for many. One sailor, has now been asked to race regularly with two of the yachts and has also been hired for web, social media and photography services. With the addition of the Chicago Yacht Club race, the program is now a regional powerhouse attracting local and national sponsors including: Lincoln Motor Company and Pepsi. News coverage has been extensive, raising awareness and funds for OUCARES at Oakland University and showcasing its unique programs.