We are launching headlong into a very busy spring and summer season! This week was a whirlwind of activities for me, the highlight of which was an afternoon visit to Joyce Kilmer Elementary School in Trenton.
PNRA Executive Director, Kris Grudt, contacted me a few days prior to ask me to round up a few other USTC athletes to attend an event at Joyce Kilmer in order to talk about our experiences as Rowers and to promote a new mentorship initiative that PNRA is constructing along with Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Trenton to provide access to Rowing at the Caspersen Rowing Center in West Windsor. Joyce Kilmer Elementary pulls from some of Trenton’s tougher neighborhoods and the majority of its students come from very low socio-economic backgrounds. When I asked the school’s vice principal about which sports the school provides for its students, he simply answered: “none”. He went on to tell me that JK is considered a “failing school” based on standards from No Child Left Behind, and the school is facing major restructuring, and potentially major staff and administrative turnover. Budget cuts have limited the school’s ability to provide arts classes to their elementary students, and only some of them have a physical education program.
Myself, Natalie Dell, and Mary Whipple helped present a short program to introduce the sport of Rowing to about two hundred elementary and middle school students, including a screening of the Women’s 8+ race from Beijing, an erg demonstration, and then racing on the ergs that were being donated to the school’s PE department by PNRA.
The kids were amazing.
Their enthusiasm, energy and curiosity were touching and inspiring. Many of these kids had no idea what Rowing was before the presentation, but after a few minutes they were all cheering each other on, and thronged around the ergs waiting their turn to try them out. They were asking us questions, asking for autographs, and asking what they had to do to get involved and try rowing a real boat. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to work with these kids, and look forward to having more opportunities to work with the PNRA and their outreach work in order to introduce Rowing to even more local children.
As elite athletes, it is so important to stay in touch with the channels that provide children with the ability to play and compete. I am thankful for all the opportunities I had growing up to try many sports, and have a safe place to grow and learn values of fair play and respect. I hope that as we continue to move toward 2012 and beyond, that the USTC Women will take a more active role in helping to facilitate these opportunities for more generations of children. For more, read about My Cause.
Read the USRowing Press Release: http://www.usrowing.org/News/11-04-13/Reach_Out_and_Row.aspx
And view their Facebook photo gallery: http://www.facebook.com/USRowing?ref=ts&sk=info#!/media/set/fbx/?set=a.10150162906874711.308830.58008989710
Long Live the Dream,