Friday, June 17, 2011
Piers Park Sailing Center, Boston MA
Although Will and I were aware of some of the things we would encounter at Piers Park Sailing Center, it's hard to realize in advance what a powerful experience something like Piers Park will bring out. Whether it was bringing smiles to children who had never been on the water before or enabling paraplegic sailors to expand their horizons, the Piers Park program is truly unique.
However, the program would not be the same without the individuals behind it. If it weren't for Program Director Maureen McKinnon-Tucker flying down the docks without a second thought and the constant banter with Jim Donahue on the Board of Directors the spirit of the place would be lost. Piers Park in one sweep is a conglomerate of sailors- experienced or novice, physically disadvantaged or not, to engage in their surrounds and get on the water.
What struck me personally about Piers Park is the fearlessness and collaboration it brought out in every individual attending the programs or helping out. I think one of the scariest things about being physically restricted is that when the most simple day to day actions (like walking downstairs for example) are difficult or impossible, it's a struggle to feel self-reliant and confident. Not at Piers Park.
Piers Park is designed to allow anyone, disabled or abled bodied, to learn how to sail or take their sailing to the next level. One of the characteristics Jim Donahue said of the junior program is the ability to integrate disabled and abled bodied children in the same boat, which has a huge impact on young sailors. This philosophy though is seen all levels of sailing at Piers Park- whether it's jumping out of a wheelchair to take an O'pen Bic out for a spin, launching children who have never sailed before off the docks, or coordinating events for wounded veterans or Paralympic sailors, there is undeniable collaboration to make the simple dreams happen.