Today Will and I had the chance to visit the Community Boating Center, Inc. for an Olympic Day. Although we have taken full advantage of the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics being in the States (although briefly) to spend time with them and take some time to appreciate our Olympians.
However, New Bedford was truly unique in that we were with children who are less exposed to sailing, and even more so less exposed to an Olympic experience. The Community Boating Center takes in disadvantaged kids to teach them sailing.
At Community Boating, the day begins when a giant white van with a sign reading "SCHOOL BUS" pulls up to the door. The van pics up the kids in the program from their houses just to bring them to the center. I had the opportunity to talk to Luke who has been working at Community Boating Center for seven years. Having just graduated University of Connecticut, Luke had considered other programs to coach at but "there just isn't anywhere as rewarding as here." Lately the program has expanded so much Community Boating has had to shorten it's programs from being summer-long for some kids to only two week sessions in order to reach enough kids. Luke also explained that one of his favorite things about the program was how it brought kids who didn't even know they lived near the water. Luke has watched how being confident in the water builds children's confidence off the water and that's one of the special things about this program.
In an array of Optis, O'Pen Bics, Sonars, 420's, and even a paddle boards for Will and I, we made our way across the channel to meet the Olympians who were going to speak to the kids. Our three Olympians, Carol Newman Cronin, Amanda Clark, and Maureen McKinnon-Tucker greeted the kids and brought them into the sailing center. The Olympians had prepared a powerpoint which covered the Athens and China Olympics- and even a foreshadow of what the Olympics might look like in Weymouth. Although the kids were barely acquainted with sailing, their attention was hooked on every story told whether it was the Chinese giving Maureen McKinnon-Tucker's blonde daughter more attention than the Olympians, the atmosphere surrounding the Olympic Village, or explaining how waves can be big enough that masts disappear. What was really great about this meeting was that kids who are living such a different life got a glimpse of something tangible when real people pursue their dreams.
Afterwards, the children were allowed to look at Maureen's Gold Medal, inlaid with white jade which apparently considered more valuable than gold and green jade. After some time for the kids to talk to the Olympians and take a few group pictures, it was time to sail (or tow) back home across the channel.