BENEFITING: SAN JOAQUIN RIVER STEWARDSHIP PROGRAM INC
Project Paddle connects under served and special needs youth with the outdoors through innovative paddling programs that allow participants to gain the paddling skills necessary to experience and explore America's most endangered river, the San Joaquin, and make a contribution towards its restoration. Project Paddle will engage Fresno California area youth and their families in on-the-water experiences of the San Joaquin River. Youth will learn how to paddle kayaks and stand up paddle boards, use kayaks to participate in an interpretive kayak trip to learn the challenges of river restoration and the habitat needs of Chinook salmon, and perform a river cleanup project. These activities will “connect” youth with the San Joaquin River, involve them in activities that develop outdoor knowledge, skills, and appreciation, improve aquatic habitat, and prepare them to be responsible stewards of the environment. Project Paddle will target the historically underserved Hmong, Latino, and African American communities in Fresno, California. These communities regularly use the San Joaquin River for recreation and harvest its fish for food. Most have never been involved in any paddlesport program or paddled on the San Joaquin River. Project Paddle will be inclusive of youth with special needs. These youth require unique accommodations to allow them to participate in paddlesports. For this reason most have not have had the opportunity to participate in paddlesports or explore the San Joaquin River. The San Joaquin River Stewardship Program (SJRSP) is uniquely qualified to offer Paddlesport programs. The SJRSP is recognized by the California Department of Boating and Waterways (CDBW) as an Aquatic Center. Aquatic Centers assist the CDBW in fulfilling its mission of promoting water safety, responsible boating, and stewardship. The SJRSP has certified instructors to provide Paddlesport instruction and to supervise on-the-water activities and river trips. CDBW funding has allowed the SJRSP to purchase all of the equipment necessary for Project Paddle. This includes paddle boards, single kayaks, tandem kayaks, paddles, life jackets and all necessary safety equipment. Crowdrise funds will be used to fund on-the-water experiences for 200 youth participants and 100 adult chaperones. Grant funds will be used to provide kayak and stand up paddleboard classes for youth, and allow them to experience the San Joaquin River through an 8.5 mile river trip. These funds will be supplemented by funds received from the California Department of Waterways and fee for service programs to enable participants to have 4 on-the-water experiences. Additional experiences will include a day paddlesport races for all participants. Project Paddle activities will be documented by photos and videos taken by program participants and posted on You Tube and social media. Press releases will be issued throughout the project to highlight the activities and accomplishments of youth. The SJRSP will also engage a group of high school students enrolled in a videography class to produce a video of the project. Project Paddle will show case youth engaging in recreational activities on the river and modeling responsible stewardship to the Fresno community and California. These activities will help bring the river back to the center of community life and contribute to its restoration. They will also prepare youth for a lifetime of outdoor adventures on the San Joaquin River.