Paddling it Forward!!
July 28, 2016
Help a paddler get to Scotland!
We are fundraising for Chicago Adventure Therapy (CAT), an organization that has for the past nine years worked with young people in Chicago who face some of the greatest challenges, whether they are homeless, transgender, refugees, gang-involved, and/or wards of the State. Nearly all of them live in a low income situation. Most of them don't have access to outdoor sports on their own.
In August, Andrea Knepper (Executive Director of CAT) is going to Scotland to assess for a Coaching award that isn't yet offered in the States. She has to take students with her - students she's coached for at least a year, and who can paddle in a challenging, dynamic environment.
A group of talented young people at CAT is eager to go, and has committed to an intense training program in order to paddle at the skill level needed for this trip. They've developed a passion for sea kayaking and have worked really hard to develop the skill to match their passion.
These young people have put in the work and they have the skill. We want to provide the opportunity. Their total fundraising goal is $20,000. Our goal is $5,000 to pay for one paddler.
The day after Andrea's assessment, her students will assess for a British Canoe Union (BCU) Three Star Award - an award that signifies that a paddler is equipped to be a competent member of a group paddling in conditions that include surf to three feet high, numerous whitecaps, and challenging wind.
This young, racially and ethnically diverse group will have the opportunity to paddle and assess in one of the world's most challenging, most beautiful paddling destinations. They'll assess with Gordon Brown, one of the world's best sea kayakers and coaches.
Every member of the group has been told by the world, at some point in their life, that they're not enough. Every one of them has remarkable skill. They will return from this trip equipped to be genuine leaders in the paddling world and in their own communities. They will return ready to pass their skills along to the next diverse group of young Chicago paddlers.
We attended Canoecopia this year -- the largest paddlesports exhibition in the world, which includes a large array of educational programs. Andrea brought a small group of young instructors and paddlers with her to deliver a presentation about CAT, and these young people spoke passionately about how their participation has helped them grow as young adults and as future leaders.
What touched me most about their presentation was their directness regarding the challenges they face. As women, people of color, and transgender young people, CAT provides a safe space for challenge and growth. These young people are already leaders, and agents of change in the world. This trip will provide an opportunity to take their skills as paddlers and leaders to the next level.
These students are simply extraordinary, and this is an extraordinary opportunity for them. We were so impressed by these young superstars, we want to help them reach their goals.
I've been following the progress of the CAT paddling program since I met Andrea during some of my first kayaking classes. As a beginning paddler myself, I quickly understood how challenging and involved sea kayaking could be. I was incredibly fortunate to have coaches like Andrea with extensive skill sets who coaxed me through my fears and ignited my desire to learn.
Kayaking is transformative. It's an adrenaline rush and a meditation. It's also an incredible teaching tool. To teach someone to kayak requires a host of both practical and communication skills. It requires experience and confidence. These are life skills that CAT is nurturing in their youth participants through exposure to outdoor sports that would otherwise not be accessible to them. Through classes, coaching trips and skills assessments, these young kayakers develop social skills, empowerment and a real sense of possibility. They are now becoming the coaches of future paddlers. I was fortunate enough to have one such young coach as a co-teacher in my class. Let's help these future coaches get to the next level.
We think you, our friends and families and paddling community, are up to the task of helping us raise $5,000. This will cover the cost of transportation, food and lodging, fees, and training for one participant. Please, give what you can. Every bit helps, large or small!