YALE UNIVERSITY'S
COMMUNITY ROWING PROGRAM
(community.rowing@yale.edu)
P.O. Box 208216
New Haven, CT 06520-8216

 

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Overview

The Yale Community Rowing Program (YCR) officially began in 1999 with the idea that opportunities in the sport of rowing could be made available to young people throughout this community. The pilot program began with twelve participants and a staff of three. It has since grown to become one of the largest programs of its kind in the nation, unique in its scope and inclusiveness. The most compelling fact regarding the programs growth was that in 2009 we had close to 900 young people between the ages of ten and seventeen take part in YCR-sponsored activities. Participants are drawn from the Lower Naugatuck Valley as well as greater New Haven and are representative of a diverse ethnic and socio-economic demographic. By maintaining its programs free of charge, YCR strives to encourage diversity and to ensure that economic cost is no barrier to participation. Rising popularity, however, has stressed its capacity to provide such access and summer sessions are typically fully subscribed within one or two days of posting registration forms on our web site.

YCR’s core mission is to create a comfortable learning environment where children can increase self-esteem and enjoy a unique team bond through their participation in the sport rowing. While out on the water self-gratification comes from the crews success and this is achieved by each rower working in time and unison whether in a large training barge or sleek racing shell.

Recognizing the impact such experiences may have in establishing lifelong habits of physical activity and fitness, the program stresses inclusiveness and values collaborative effort. Beginning with children as young as ten years old in one-week learn to row sessions and continuing through sequentially more advanced middle and high school programs, YCR offers unique access to this non-traditional sport to children at all levels of fitness. Each participant benefits daily from the experience of rowing on the Housatonic River as they are taught the basics of stroke technique and are encouraged in the art of group enterprise. The programs designed to ensure that all share common experiences and to achieve goals on a daily basis. They learn to trust and value their teammates and the environment, to take responsibility for their actions, and to build self-confidence from their accomplishments. Parents happily report how the life lessons of discipline, teamwork, and commitment are incorporated into every facet of their children’s lives.

Perhaps most importantly, YCR enables participants to grow as individuals, preparing them for future physical, academic and social challenges. In the summer of 2005the high school program started to offer an educational component in the form of a college counseling service. This service continues to be free of charge to any high school student currently within our program. Today, participants from this program are looking at colleges that will satisfy their academic and athletic needs as a direct result of their experiences with YCR.

Current Programs and Activities

The heart of YCR is the youth “learn to row” program, which teaches the rudimentary skills of rowing in one-week summer sessions. Participants make use of our three training barges. These pontoon-style boats enable novice rowers to develop their newly acquired skills while building teamwork and self-confidence. It is the most popular program with all 192 available spots filled almost immediately. Upon completion of this program, young rowers may join the middle or high school programs. Presently these two programs have a combined roster of 132 youth. Apart from on the water instruction there are scheduled video sessions, land training exercises and discussions on nutrition and healthy life styles.

Another very important component of YCR is our accessibility to various community agencies. During the summer, YCR provides transportation to and from the boathouse that enables youth from the following organizations to enjoy their own learn to row program: the Recreation Center in Derby, the Boy’s and Girl’s Club of the Lower Naugatuck Valley, the ANSEOX (Ansonia, Seymour, Oxford) Girl Scouts Camp, the American School for the Deaf and Junta for Progressive Action, which is New Haven’s oldest Latino community-based organization. Close to 900 boys and girls each year now have the opportunity to learn a new sport through YCR’s collaboration with these organizations.

To coach and mentor so many interested young people YCR draws from a diverse base of undergraduate rowers from around the country. The greatest reward comes from former participants who are coming home from college and wish to spend their summer giving back to the next generation of rowers. YCR’s staff of fifteen coaches instills the lessons of teamwork, discipline, responsibility and commitment into each practice. YCR has also actively participated in the last three Derby Day celebrations by holding an open house accessible by shuttle bus from downtown. Tours have been given to the many interested area residents who wish to see the facility and learn more about YCR activities and the sport of rowing.

 For further information e-mail program director Holly Archibald (community.rowing@yale.edu) or call (203) 432-0311.

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