It may be January, but students from the two Bronx schools currently enrolled in Rocking the Boat’s Public Program are thinking spring.
Two dozen ninth and 10th graders at Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School and a dozen sixth and seventh graders from Bronx Community Charter School have immersed themselves in woodworking projects that are helping make winter fade into the background. The freshmen and sophomores are in the boatshop twice a week through early March—the space is relatively quiet during the current two-month hiatus of the Youth Development Program—building planting boxes, benches, and tables for their school’s rooftop garden. It is the project they chose as a way to give back to their community, learn some basic carpentry, and set the stage for the gardening program that will follow this spring.
In partnership with Mosholu Montefiore Community Center and Bronx Community Charter School, Rocking the Boat staff, including two alumni working part time for the organization as Program Assistants, have set up a temporary shop in a new classroom space at the school, located on the Bronx River just north of the New York Botanical Garden. Twelve of the middle schoolers signed up to spend every Wednesday and Friday afternoon from now through March constructing a 10-foot Wood Duck kayak that will be put to active use during the course of their studies when the weather warms. Rocking the Boat is thrilled to be working with these enthusiastic groups and encourages other schools to partner with us all year round.
"At Bronx Community Charter School, we've always admired the work that Rocking the Boat does with Bronx youth, from building boats to on-water programs. Our students have had the opportunity to explore the Bronx River in student-built boats with Rocking the Boat staff, and have always had a fantastic experience. We wanted to expand our relationship with Rocking the Boat to take further advantage of all the wonderful things they have to offer. So we were thrilled to pilot a kayak building program where Rocking the Boat staff work with twelve of our middle schoolers two afternoons a week to build a kayak right here at our school. It was a wonderful program, full of incredible hands-on learning, problem solving, and opportunities for kids to discover new things about themselves. Our kids are deeply committed to the work, and feeling intense satisfaction as the kayak comes together week by week. And at the end of 11 weeks, we will have a kayak built by our kids, all ready to take out on the Bronx River!"