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“Vela Speciale”

Sailing project for youngsters with disabilities

The Mariani Foundation has always sought to promote and support projects aimed at improving the quality of life of children with neurological conditions. The idea behind the “Vela Speciale” project is that sailing is a great way to offer children and young people with disabilities a richly stimulating experience in the open air, and help them to integrate with their “able-bodied” peers.

Helping actively with the various manoeuvres on board the boat and becoming part of a team helps these children gain confidence in themselves, and the positive effects of this are felt within the home and also in social settings. The specially equipped boat, which goes by the name of “Furibonda – Fondazione Mariani”, is moored at the Marina di Domaso on Lake Como, which has accessibility features for disabled people.

Launched in 2008, the project is run by Fondazione Mariani in collaboration with Vivere La Vela, an association that boasts a team of skippers specifically trained to work with people with special needs. Since 2022, the Mariani Foundation Centre for Medically Fragile Children at the “Sant’Anna” Hospital in Como (Italy) has also been part of the project. The centre’s director, Dr Angelo Selicorni, and a psychologist from his team are studying the project from a scientific point of view, monitoring its impact on the lives of the children who take part.

The project is open to families and associations, who can book free trips in the boat subject to availability (i.e., as long as the funds supporting the project last). Trips are generally organised from late spring to early autumn.