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We're excited to announce that ASTO member Challenge Wales has scooped the international award of ‘Sail Training Organisation of the Year’ at the Sail Training International conference in Antwerp.

Challenge Wales, which operates the Sail Training vessels Challenge Wales | Wales Tall Ship and Adventure Wales won the award due to the work it has done during 2019 with hundreds of disadvantaged young people, helping them to develop their employability skills. The Charity is only the third UK recipient of the Award since the awards started in 2007.

The predominantly-run volunteer charity provides social and personal development training for those aged 12 – 25 years and has worked with homeless/risk of homeless young people as well as young carers, those in the care system, young people with learning difficulties, LGBTQ groups, college and school pupils and those who are financially disadvantaged through unemployment or lack of opportunities. The charity has also developed Agored Cymru accredited learning, undertaken onboard, giving young people something tangible for their CV.

Paul Bishop, Head of Race Directorate at Sail Training International said: “This has been a great year for Challenge Wales and they have been an inspiration to all of us involved in Sail Training. They have worked with hundreds of young people from diverse backgrounds, offering unique and inclusive sail training programmes. Challenge Wales made a terrific contribution to The Tall Ships Races and a real difference to the young people who participated, encouraging international friendship and cultural understanding. Challenge Wales engages in remarkable youth development, which demonstrates innovation, best practice and delivering excellence – which is why they are so deserving of the Sail Training Organisation of the Year Award.”

Trustee of Challenge Wales, Vicky Williams said: “Winning this award, in our tenth year of operating, is an amazing accolade to our volunteers, supporters and team. We’ve had some amazing results getting young people back into employment, volunteering or education and through independent evaluation our sail training programme has been evidenced to show that it has a positive impact on young people’s mental health and wellbeing as well as developing their life skills. Sail Training is a great leveller and challenges the individual. Our programme also adapts with us and this year we raised awareness of sustainability and one-use plastic issues and its impact on the ocean. It is great that our work is being recognised within the industry and at an international level.”

Challenge Wales has an exciting sail training programme planned for 2020 that young people and groups can be part of, with bursary funding available to support many young people aged 12 – 25 years.

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