Youngsters took part in a sailing therapy day held at Zeekoevlei Yacht Club. Sailing experts were on hand to show them the ropes.

Children who participated hailed from various homes and community and non-profit organisations, including St Joseph’s Home, Reach for a Dream and 9Miles Project.

Greg Bertish, the founder of Little Optimist, organised the event.

Little Optimist was founded after Bertish underwent surgery due to a health complication in 2001.

He says it was challenging but he fought his way back and regained his strength.

Part of what he does is to head projects aimed at inspiring children faced with challenges. He uses small sailing boats as a parable to teach children valuable life lesson.

He explains: “Because big boats are faster, they laugh at the small ones. But in the end, all of the boats finish the journey.

“I say to these children, ‘No matter the darkness you are facing, you can succeed. You need to fight.

“You can be small or sick, but if you dream big and if you follow those dreams, you can make it’,” he says.

His wish is to leave them with the feeling that there is something to live for.

Bertish says sometimes children who are sick or who have suffered serious burn injuries can lose their self-esteem.

He wants to help children thrive even though the odds are against them.

Felicity Mbambani, an administrative clerk at St Joseph’s Home, commends Bertish for his work. She says this experience was new to some of the children.

“Many children return to their homes for the holidays but some stay behind.