Etgarim’s The Boat is Sailing Project is a unique program for people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that uses sailing to teach them to cope with daily life.
PTSD results from exposure to extreme trauma and stress situations, and may often lead to disability that presents itself in varying forms. In Israel, a country filled with conflict and stress, PTSD affects more people than in other countries, and is especially prominent among army and police personnel. Symptoms of PTSD are diverse and include anxiety, anger, inability, depression, feeling of loss and hardship. These symptoms vary from person to person and can tremendously affect their everyday lives.
Project The Boat is Sailing uses sailing as a rehabilitative and therapeutic tool. The unique characteristics of sailing enable them to deal with varying symptoms of the disorder. The participants not only perform diverse assignments on board, but also take responsibility for the lives of other people as well as their own. By accomplishing these assignments, members gain methods of successful coping. The activity allows them to identify and understand their disabilities, and thus gain control over them.
An important advantage of the project is a that it creates a community in which its members can share the burden of their condition, especially when those afflicted by it, have great hardships in creating social bonds and tend to isolate themselves from the environment. The project provides a safe environment where they can feel comfort among those who are like them and can relate to their problems, and thus create social bonds and support.
The project was founded by Yoav Ben David, who was taken as a POW in 1973 and has been affected since then by PTSD. Yoav searched for many years for a way to cope with his PTSD. What began as a small project with a few participants grew up to 60 participants in every sail. The activity takes place in ports throughout Israel. In addition to weekly sails, there are social activities for the participants and their families. The project allows those who started as members become counselors, and to guide new members in this activity.