by Kassandra Nevarez, Marketing and Communications Intern
Many of our readers are familiar with our School Day Adaptive program, which works with students from District 75. In the spring and fall we host groups of girls with physical and/or cognitive disabilities for an 10-week program, and absolutely love sharing the sport of rowing with them. This spring we were pleased to wrap up another School Day Adaptive season – and had some special international guests.
This month students from Mongolia visited Row New York’s Queens boathouse, with Achilles International, a nonprofit that helps people with disabilities participate in sports. They also tried other sports in New York and were excited to get out on the water.
The day started with some dynamic stretching to warm up and avoid injury. Students then moved to the ergs and learned the rowing stroke. We were pretty close to getting out on the water!
After we were familiar with the rowing stroke – legs, body, arms, arms, body, legs – we moved into the barges. Barges are used to introduce athletes to rowing. They are wide and stable, and unlike shells, ports sit next to starboards. Barges are especially good for beginners because coaches can walk up and down the middle aisle and help rowers with their technique. That is much easier than yelling from a launch ten feet away!
At first, rowing is always a little awkward. While taking your first strokes, you have to remember what you learned on the erg and try to do the same while holding an oar and putting it into the water before a stroke and taking it out immediately after. The Mongolian students had this experience but quickly learned how to move the boat. A few minutes after we left the dock, coach Carol pointed out how far the barge had moved. The students were pleased!
Finally, after many strokes and many laughs, the barge returned to the dock. The students clapped and cheered and when asked if they had fun, they all said “YES!”