Making the Grade: Swim, Sail, Science Program

Courageous Sailing's Swim, Sail, Science program has been offered to low-income families in the Boston School District for 25 years

Soon-to-be fourth graders Trinity Dickson and Ronel Ortega are learning how to be the captains of their own ships - literally.

In sailing terms, the youngesters are rigging a boat, getting it ready to go out sailing on Boston Harbor.

Trinity and Ronel look like naturals out on the water in Charlestown's historic Navy Yard, doing something that no one else in their families have ever done before.

These two are taking part in Courageous Sailing's Swim, Sail, Science class, which is a 25-year-old program offered to students from low-income families in the Boston Public School District.

In the course of three weeks, these students will learn how to swim and navigate the Boston Harbor waters on a sail boat. Roughly 1,200 kids learn to sail for free each summer through this program.

Trinity says her favorite part of the program is sailing, and that she likes to drive the tiller, which controls the sailboat.

"When you first start, it's kind of scary because sometimes when you move the tiller and tack or jibe too much, it looks like the boat is about to tip, but even if you fall of, you have these and the boat can't tip because it has a thing at the bottom of the boat and it's called the keel," Ronel explained.

"They really love the sailing. It's something that they have never experienced before, so getting them out on the water is really unique and it does truly build their confidence and leadership skills as well as teamwork," Rebecca Inver said.

The fun part about this program is the lessons they learn in the water are reinforced by science they're taught in the classroom.

"We focus it more on the marine food web of life because it's right here in their backyard where they are looking at it," Inver said. "A lot of these students who may not be good at classroom work really find their calling out on the water because it's interactive and they really take ownership over what they are learning and the boat itself."

Learning to steer and navigate a sail boat is a fun and worthwhile summer experience on Boston Harbor and perhaps a metaphor for the rest of their lives.

Learn more about the Courageous Sailing Center's programs here

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