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Paddle round island to support Scars

Charity crew: Kayak for Kids raises money and awareness for Scars (Photograph supplied)

First it was kayakers, then surf skiers joined in and paddlers got on board last year — now it is hoped more people than ever will get on the water for a round-the-island challenge this weekend.

Jerry Rivers, an organiser of Kayak For Kids, said the event to raise money for Saving Children and Revealing Secrets was growing annually.

He called on members of the community to take part in the two-day circumnavigation of Bermuda on Saturday and Sunday or one of the two shorter West End routes.

Mr Rivers, whose wife, Debi Ray-Rivers, founded the child sexual abuse prevention charity, explained: “It started out as Kayak For Kids because it’s got a great ring to it and it all started with kayaks.

“That’s grown over the years, in addition to kayaks we have surf ski — almost like souped-up kayaks that are narrow and long.

“We have people now taking those things out with us, we have the regular kayaks and we also had paddle boarders last year.”

Mr Rivers said the event raised money both through corporate sponsorship and individual donations supporting the people who take part in the challenge.

The event will start from Somerset Long Bay at 8am on Saturday and participants will make their way to Clearwater Beach, where the vessels will be stored overnight.

The next morning, they will complete the loop of Bermuda and return to their starting point for a family barbecue.

At 1.30pm on Sunday, others will take part in 3½ or seven-mile courses around the West End.

Mr Rivers explained: “We find mums and kids take a two-person kayak and do the shorter routes.

“The idea is that they will be finishing up around the same time as the round-the-island group.”

He added: “It creates not only a fundraising opportunity but also awareness.

“People will see the kayaks on the water and say, ‘What’s that all about?’ It’s growing each year; I’m hoping it continues to grow.”

Sponsors include brokers Willis Re and Guy Carpenter, insurance and reinsurance firms, Axa XL, the Oil group of companies, Chubb, Markel, Hiscox, Neon and Fidelis as well as professional services firm Aon and fund manager Markel CATCo.

Now in its fourth year, Mr Rivers believed at least 20 vessels would be involved in the round-the-island challenge, but “probably more”.

In 2018, the event raised about $135,000, he said.

Scars aims to reduce the risk of child sexual abuse by increasing public awareness and advocating for policies and procedures that protect minors.

More than 9,500 people have taken part in its training programme and the organisation provides resources for survivors.

Mr Rivers said: “We’ve taken a position where we don’t feel people should have to pay to learn how to protect kids and prevent child sexual abuse.

“Since none of the participants that attend our trainings are charged for what we do, it comes from corporate sponsorship and donations.”

He added that events such as Kayak For Kids remind people about the work of Scars.

Mr Rivers explained: “Although we have had a lot of trainings, repetition is important.

“We make a recommendation that when you do our certified training Stewards of Children, you do it every three years.”

For more information or to sign up, visit kayak4kids.bm