In August 2000 Andrea Stella, a twenty-four year old boy from Thiene (Vicenza, North-East Italy) on holiday in Miami, was assaulted and shot by criminals who were attempting to steal his rented car. That inexplicable shooting forced him on a wheelchair.
Passionate for sailing, undeterred by the accident, and so eager to get back to the sea, Andrea decided to design the first fully accessible sailing boat in the world, and to use it for defending the rights of disabled people worldwide. The result of that idea was Spirito di Stella, a catamaran designed to be managed by people forced on a wheelchair.
For its maiden voyage the catamaran sailed across the Atlantic ocean, back to Miami, with a crew composed of wheelchaired people. This symbolic voyage was a success: everybody onboard could enjoy their sea experience without having to worry about how to move or how to deal with problems.
The catamaran’s sails are marked with an extract from the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, stating that integration in the society is and should always be a fundamental right and not merely an available option. In over 10 years of ocean crossing, Spirito di Stella has been representing a pragmatic and lively example of how this is possible.
Today Spirito di Stella is followed closely by thousands of people via the ship’s weblog. In this way everyone can easily understand that almost nothing should be recall as impossible and that anyone of us, given the right conditions, can experience an off-limits adventure to eliminate barriers, both architectural and mental.