Sailing and the ocean doesn’t necessarily bring the term “wheelchair-friendly” to mind, but Shake-A-Leg Miami for the last 26 years has been intent on changing this. One of the most well-known adaptive sailing organizations in the world, Shake-A-Leg Miami thrives on bringing disabled individuals out onto the water and so much more.
From offering adapted kayaks and guided sailing lessons to providing summer camps and youth programs, Shake-A-Leg Miami’s offerings are impressive, and everything they do is housed in their equally impressive home base – a large facility right on the water in Miami, previously owned and operated by the U.S. Coast Guard.
To renovate the facility into one that is universally accessible, Shake-A-Leg Miami entered into a partnership with the City of Miami, giving in-need youth and others access to this wonderful facility. Many able-bodied kids from economic-hardship backgrounds sail for their first time because of Shake-a-Leg Miami.
Shake-a-Leg’s origins did not begin in Miami, but rather was founded in Newport, Rhode Island by Harry Horgan (a paraplegic and past SCI Superstar). In 1990, Harry’s surgeon at the Miami Project, Dr. Barth Green, persuaded him that his program should be moved to Miami so that it could be open all year round, and that is exactly what he did. The program has expanded immensely since moving to Florida.
A 501(C)(3) nonprofit, Shake-a-Leg Miami offers a huge variety of water-related activities and services. They offer several programs for kids. One of the most popular is there We Can Sail program, where every Saturday they offer a sailing and sports day for kids with disabilities and their families. They also offer their nationally recognized initiative, Spirit of America, which provides boating and water safety education to middle school students with and without disabilities.
And for those with disabilities, Shake-a-Leg Miami offers a Wellness Center where you can do yoga, strength training in an accessible gym and pilates all in a barrier-free environment.
They also teach sailing instruction and kayaking to people with disabilities and they offer a variety of social activities. If you’re interested in competing in sailing on an international scale like the Paralympics, you can train at their sports center and/or wellness center as well.
Not only do they have accessible kayaks, they also provide rides on accessible powerboats and sailboats, including the latest addition to their fleet – The Impossible Dream – a 60 foot catamaran financed and lead by Deborah Mellen.
The Impossible Dream is on a mission of showing how purposeful design and technology can open up the water and improve the quality of life of people with disabilities. Impossible Dream will be sailing up the east coast this summer. Visit impossibledream.us and learn how you can go for a sail.
Meaning to literally get a move on it, “Shake-A-leg” is doing just that; helping people get out on the water and do something that seemed impossible, over and over again all year round.
Visit them online: Shake-A-Leg Miami
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