"The JST is an incredible experience"

The Tenacious, and its sister ship the Lord Nelson, are two large sailing ships offering able-bodied and disabled people the opportunity to build teams and sail together along the coasts of England and France, as well as the Canary Islands and other locations. The Jubilee Sailing Trust (JST) is an organization devoted to creating challenging opportunities for the integration of people with different abilities.
Last year, the JST program was recognized by the Allianz Global Diversity Council as an initiative offering a unique opportunity for personal development and for acquiring crucial social, team-building and management skills. The program is sponsored by the Allianz Group diversity initiative led by Clem Booth. Thirty to forty Allianz employees from all over the world join one of the seventeen sailings that take place between May and October each year. To date, Allianz employees from Poland, Bulgaria, Italy, Ireland, Greece, the US, France, Germany, the UK, Russia, Singapore and Spain have taken part.

Christina Blaschke from Allianz Group Human Resources was on board the recent sailing that was filmed by German television station ZDF.  Blaschke had some previous sailing experience, but knew she was in for something different: "I figured that sailing with 50 people on board, where space is tight, would be a challenge!"

So went with mixed feelings, but nonetheless looked forward to the experience. On her return to Munich, she is a convert: "Next year, I will sail again with the JST – and with Anne."

Anne is 53 years old. She was in a serious car accident ten years ago. Since then, the left side of her body, as well as her left ear and eye, has been impaired. Christina Blaschke was Anne’s “buddy” on board. They got on very well, which is important, given that they have to share a tight cabin for six days.

It didn’t take long for everyone to get acquainted once on board. "I had no experience with disabled people before," says Christina Bersick, "but I watched how naturally the permanent JST crew were dealing with them, and I just copied them." All four Allianz colleagues remarked on how independent each of their buddies was.

The JST-tall ship "Tenacious" at anchor

All in the same boat. The Jubilee Sailing Trust (JST) is devoted to creating challenging opportunities for the integration of people with different abilities.

There were four "watches" on board and four teams of 8 to 10 people to cover each watch and run the ship during that time. The ages on board ranged from 16 to 83 years, with British and German able-bodied and disabled people making for a good mix. "Working as a team was easy," says Christina Blaschke, "even the cleaning went well!"
The Tenacious was perfectly equipped for disabled people: with specially adapted beds, a speaking compass, elevators that move people onto the bridge and below deck, and strips along the deck – all of which are crucial in helping blind or wheelchair bound people to navigate the ship safely.

The four Allianz colleagues were so impressed with the JST experience that they would all like to repeat it again, privately. "The JST is an incredible experience," says Blaschke, "it affects everybody. The more time has passed, the more I keep thinking about it."

It’s exactly because the JST has such a sustainable effect, and that it reflects the objectives of the Allianz Diversity Initiative so well, that Allianz would like to continue its sponsorship of the JST.

"As one of the diversity awareness initiative at Allianz, we have found that the JST offers an innovative approach," say Veronica Schilling, of Group Human Resources at Allianz. "The JST brings people together to work in a team with people who are different from themselves and gets them to see the potential in others. It’s an experience that takes people out of their comfort zones. To date employees from 18 Group companies who have participated in the JST. Colleagues who have been on this developmental experience recommend that Allianz should continue to support the JST. Some even mention that they will pay for themselves to repeat the experience a second time around."

ZDF will broadcast the documentary "Auf dem richtigen Kurs" ("On the right course") on July 18, at 17:45 pm CET.

As with all content published on this site, these statements are subject to our Forward-Looking Statement disclaimer, provided on the right.