Speakers Profile - David Pescud

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David Pescud has lived a life of managing a disability. His life was a troubled one from an early age due to his dyslexia and he made some decisions early in his life that weren’t the right ones. He found that being illiterate left him vulnerable and separated from society.

However, despite this adverse beginning, David became a successful businessman. So successful that he was able to retire in his early 40’s.

One passion in his life that never left him was that of sailing and he set out to build himself a boat. He began to think that this boat meant more to him than just sailing and a kernel of an idea began to come together in his mind - to create a charity to focus on those in society that have been limited by disability. More particularly, to devote himself to creating the opportunity for disabled people, especially kids, to learn to sail. With that in mind, David founded Sailors with disABILITIES in 1994, when he gathered the first crew of disabled sailors to enter the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.
SWD has now completed its 23rd Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. David is a man on a mission to show that disabled people can take their place alongside the able-bodied, "ABs" as he calls them, and have their abilities acknowledged ahead of their disabilities.

"Sailing is the great equaliser. When the chips are down in the Rolex Sydney to Hobart, everyone's a cripple. In the pitch dark of a moonless night, everyone's blind. In a howling storm, everyone's deaf. When the boat's deck is riding at 90 degrees to the water no-one can walk, everyone scuttles around on their bum."

David’s dream has now grown into an organisation that has worked with 45,000 people with disability and disadvantaged youth. The programs deliver real change and better life outcomes, to the lives of people with disability and disadvantaged people with the assistance of 120 volunteers in Melbourne, Sydney and outreach in Hobart, Coffs Harbour, Newcastle, Southport, Rosslyn Bay and Mackay.
All SWD programs are run FREE of charge to the community. SWD believes that Australia’s future is in ALL its youth. The purpose of SWD is to contribute to an optimistic and forward-looking community that will guarantee the best possible future for this country. All efforts to this outcome will bring immeasurable yield to the fabric of our nation.
Using sailing as a tool, SWD regularly acts as a catalyst for change, where individuals develop a more optimistic outlook and enjoy personal growth and improved life outcomes.

SWD's programs are inclusive, supportive and challenging. The focus is on working as a team to find solutions to problems. Regular participation and connection with our mentors raises self-esteem, self-confidence, and improves life skills.
The organisation gives people the opportunity to dream and the knowledge to facilitate their dream.
The success of the programs can be measured by our client base, annual growth of 15-20% limited only by funding, a library of testimonials support the appropriateness, high level of return bookings from schools and community groups and current waiting lists for all programs. The most recent programs are the Winds of Change – an 8 week program for disadvantaged and disengaged youth and the Wright of Passage pre employment program where 8 young people with a disability of
challenged by life, worked on a wooden yacht for a year and sailed it to Hobart and proudly exhibited the Australian Wooden Boat Festival and attained jobs.

The success comes from the DNA of the volunteers and the Board who now carry on David’s dream with equal passion. The fearless and innovative approach enables us to tackle what was too hard. The organisations ability to understand that failure can be the first step of success.

David’s skill has been to impart his knowledge and understanding of the disabled and their need to be treated as equals in society and not separated from society.

David continues to lead from the front with enthusiasm and inspiration.

SWD is being widely recognised through the following Awards:
• David won the NSW Disability Industry Innovation Award for Distinguished Service in 2013, and the NSW and National Pride of Australia Medal for Inspiration in 2014 recognising his contributions over the last two decades.
• David Pescud won the National Disability Service Innovation Award for Distinguished Service;
• David Pescud won the NSW and then the National the Pride Of Australia Medal for Inspiration nominated by a crew member for his mentoring.