Mission: Piers Park Sailing Center is a community sailing center that uses Boston Harbor and the seas beyond to provide year round recreational, educational and personal growth opportunities for people of all ages and abilities.
Results: Achievement: Improved academic performance and graduating from high school. Learning job skills to gain employment.
Prevention: Living healthy, active lifestyles to prevent obesity and depression. Avoiding peer pressure and not engaging in violent or risky behavior.
Development: Building tolerance and understanding of their peers of all backgrounds and abilities. Realizing their full potential to become engaged citizens and live productive adult lives.
Target demographics: Our youth development program serves youth who are at-risk or living with disabilities. Participants are ages 7-18 from East Boston and other primarily low-income, diverse neighborhoods in the cities of Boston, Chelsea, Lynn, and Revere. The majority of the populations from the neighborhoods we serve are recent immigrants and English is not spoken at home. These neighborhoods provide few healthy eating options. 80% program participants qualify for free lunches and participate in our free summer food service project.
Geographic areas served: Boston, Chelsea, Lynn, Western Mass
Programs: The flagship of PPSC is our free Summer Youth Program. Each year more than 500 young people, aged 10 to 18, able and disabled, enjoy learning to sail, race, and explore the islands of Boston Harbor. From April through October we teach sailing to dozens of adults, and offer Sailing Passes for adults, and their families and friends, to enjoy the unique recreational resource of Boston Harbor with the boats in our fleet. We support a weekly race series and host several special events each year. Our facility and dock are fully wheelchair accessible, as is our fleet of sailboats. The majority of our fleet is made up of Sonar class sailboats, which are one of the boats sailed in the Paralympics. Our Adaptive Sailing Program teaches sailing to people of all levels of physical ability; it is headed by Maureen McKinnon-Tucker, a gold medalist in the 2008 Paralympic Games.
Our boat, Averisera, is moored at one of the moorings that Piers Park provides for local boaters and visitors to Boston Harbor. We interact with the youth and folk that Piers Park serves, whenever we go down to sail in our beautiful harbor. We have met young people doing sample collections and exploration activities on the dock, and invited them onto our boat, so they can see what a cruising/sailing vessel is like. When we dinghy out to our mooring, we observe the members who use the adaptive facilities, like the lift for wheelchair-bound people. It has been a humbling and uplifting experience, sharing the harbor with the population that Piers Park serves. This is an amazing place!
Last year I learned to sail at PPSC, and it was a great experience. Our sailing coach Santiago grew up sailing at Piers Park and is currently attending Mass Maritime, a true story of how a nonprofit can help children throughout their childhood and give them valuable skills - not just sailing, but discipline, responsibility and respect for our natural resources. PPSC not only serves the inner city youth of Boston, but also the disabled. It was a joy and pleasure visiting the sailing center and seeing how empowering sailing on your own can be for those who may not have full mobility on land. PPSC is truly a great nonprofit.
Piers Park is one of the most beautiful waterfront parks I have ever traveled to, and the fact it is in the middle of an inner city urban area makes it even more remarkable.
We learned about the program by one of their staff members who is a very inspiring woman who won a gold medal in sailing. Since she was a wheelchair user herself, it was very motivating for the disabled children at our facility.
At the Piers Park site, our kids were able to get right on the dock and down to the water. They were having so much fun scooping up jellyfish and racing the crabs they didn't even realize how much they were learning!
This place is great and we are very lucky to have such a resource in our city.