The emphasis on all Operation Sunshine Programmes is to offer respite, relaxation and support for the whole family and to fulfil a dream of swimming with dolphins in their natural environment.
Feedback received from those who took part in two previous Operation Sunshine Family Therapy Programmes in 2005 and 2006, convinced us that this was a unique project, able to make dreams come true and have long-term benefits for children with special needs and their families. Please see our Feedback page. It was clear “something magical” happens between children and the wild dolphins Parents reported significant improvements in their children’s psychological and physical well-being such as improved confidence and self-esteem and improved co-ordination and communication.
We have now completed our programme for 2008 where we took special needs families from the UK and Canada - please see details on our Feedback 2008 page. The children and young people we have helped have various physical and mental disadvantages, including brain trauma, cerebral palsy, autism, learning difficulties, difficulties with communication and social understanding, severe emotional and behavioural problems.
Our Hosts in Bimini were:
The Human-Dolphin Connection
26th October 2008 – 1st November 2008
2nd November 2008 – 8th November 2008
Amlas runs the Wildquest Programme and is our host in Bimini.
WildQuest and The Human-Dolphin Connection is a fantastic opportunity for us to experience the ultimate Human-Dolphin Connection with the best conditions in the world. They have been connecting and swimming with wild dolphins in the warm Caribbean ocean since 1995. Their intention is always of minimal intrusion, and their dolphin swims are conducted with respect and awareness.
Amlas says “my love of nature, dance, music, meditation and yoga has been a common thread through my life. The more I am around them the less I can say about them - for me the connection is mystical and magical and is to be experienced, not analysed”.
“In my experience they act as a bridge to this present moment where life, love, expansion and a sense of connection to all exists. It is this that I love to share, and also where, whenever I remember, I choose to live!”
As well as enjoying the beach, ocean and swimming with the dolphins there were other optional activities were on offer:
- Amlas offered morning meditation and yoga sessions during the Operation Sunshine Programme with an opportunity to open more deeply to experiencing the dolphins, the sea and your own sacred Self.
- Art was used to encourage creativity. We have found in the past that people with disabilities that lack the ability to speak often find it easier to communicate with art and music.
- During our 2008 Programme our groups worked with Annett Saunders from the Bimini Art Centre, being creative with shells and treasures they had found on the beach.
- Visits to The Dolphin House, a work of art created by Ashley Saunders, Teacher and Author of the History of Bimini. The Dolphin House is a masterpiece of craftsmanship, incorporating artwork, and dolphin mosaics using recycled materials.
- Informal presentations by Dr Horace Dobbs, Director of International Dolphin Watch and Patron of Operation Sunshine.
Ashley Saunders is a School Teacher at the Bimini All Age School
Dr Horace Dobbs/Operation Sunshine has contributed to the Bimini All Age School's literacy programme and donated Dilo Books to the school and the Bimini Library
Ashley Saunders is the Author of The History of Bimini, published by New World Press, PO Box 652, Alice Town, Bimini, Bahamas
Meet our 2008 Support Workers
Katie is a qualified journalist and yoga teacher. Katie was a volunteer on the second week's Family Therapy Programme assisting with the travel and logistics and on the location, Katie offered morning yoga classes involving stretching and breathing to prepare us mentally, physically and emotionally for the day and ran an evening yoga class to reflect and give thanks. One-to-one yoga therapy sessions will be given where requested.
Katie also has a track record of fundraising for national charities and is currently volunteering her skills to the Trustees of Operation Sunshine to raise awareness of the charity and attract funding for its Family Therapy Programme in the short and longer-term.
Julie is delighted to be part of Operation Sunshine’s support team this year.
She has had a past career in nursing, midwifery and community development. She is a Reiki Practitioner/Teacher and Emotional Freedom Technique(EFT) Practitioner. She spends much of the summer in Bimini and has worked with groups swimming with the dolphins for the past 4 years.
She provided support to the whole group both in and out of the water on both weeks and was happy to offer individual Reiki or EFT sessions to anyone who was interested.
Reiki is an ancient form of healing using natural universal energy. It originated in Japan primarily as a self healing tool for those seeking spiritual development and later developed as an energy healing art that anyone can access.
The word Reiki (pronounced ray key) is made of two Japanese words - Rei which means "God's Wisdom or the Higher Power" and Ki which is "life force energy". So Reiki can be described as "spiritually guided life force energy.” You may have heard the word Ki or Chi before in relation to other energy practices such as Tai Chi and acupuncture.
What happens during a Reiki session?
There is no pressure on the body, only light touch, making it ideal for treating all ages and conditions. The energy flows wherever it is required and can normally be felt as a warm sensation or tingling in the body. Reiki has different effects on different people depending on their individual needs at any given time. Most people find it to be a pleasant and relaxing experience bringing benefits to their health and well being.
For some it awakens their intuition, for others, their creativity.
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a Meridian Therapy and could be described as a version of acupuncture without needles. Tapping on meridian points while focusing on an issue or physical symptoms allows the rebalancing of the body’s energy system. EFT has many applications.
Both Reiki and EFT work well alongside conventional medicine and other complementary therapies.
Pat provided support to the whole group both in and out of the water on both weeks. Pat is a Licensed Recreation Therapist and offered aquatic therapy, including Watsu Techniques, which are used to allow the participant to let go of life's turmoil and challenges, and become one with self and the flow of the water. It allows for more self-acceptance, which opens the door to tolerance of others. The technique provides a safe and supported environment, where the body can physically relax and move with the gentle flow of the water that surrounds the body. The body is gently stretched and flexed releasing built up tensions. Pat is a Reiki Master and utilises the Reiki in her one on one work with clients.
Andrew is the Director of DolphCom Solutions.
DolphCom is an adventure training company with a social enterprise commitment to show up, step up and give back. Andrew and the team are passionate about Dolphin Assisted Therapy programs and a percentage of every booking goes to the creation of open water DAT to make a difference to youth with disabilities and their families. Andrew will also create a series of film clips capturing the essence of the Operation Sunshine Programme. The footage will be used for promotion and fundraising.
For information and how you can make a donation, click on the Fundraising Page: