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"I am here in Rwanda attending the 2019 Women's Leaders in Global Health Conference! The break out sessions and keynote speakers all have a  focus on empowerment and resiliency, not just for women and girls but for all refugees and those who have been forcibly displaced.  I have used Green Bay Sail and Paddle as an example of promoting both often because of the  opportunities you gave to COMSA and the United ReSisters over the last summer. 

I will say that the idea I had to combine two of my favorite things in life did not go over as smoothly as I had originally hoped. Sailing with GBSP and Somali friends are two things my family thoroughly enjoys and it only seemed like a natural choice to bring the two together. Because I was teaching in the COMSA summer school program I applied for scholarships so that all of the classes could have the opportunity to have a sailing experience. Green Bay Sail and Paddle did not hesitate and awarded us three full sessions, one for each of the age groups. 

The tricky part was getting the buy in from the Somali Families. Please do not minimize the importance of making sure a parent understands what you want to offer their child! Could you imagine going to a foreign land and having a group tell you they want to take your child on a grand adventure and it was in a language you did not understand and something you yourself had never done?!?!? These parents were brave and strong to question our motives!  But we needed their signatures of consent. After much interpreting and translating even then we had parents who did not want their children to be exposed to what in their minds could be a dangerous situation. As a school social worker who has done work with this community I could empathize with why they made that decision! They had already survived so much, they have already had to set so many boundaries to keep their children safe from harm. This may have been too much to ask of them, but I had a feeling that it would work and GBSP believed in it too. They knew that sailing could be healing because many in our own community find it therapeutic! 

We finally had 20 kids whose families gave us permission to try it. None of them had ever been on a boat. None of them could conceptualize that they were going to get to sail on a boat themselves. When we pulled up most of the kids thought we were going to stand in a circle and learn about sail boats. Once life jackets were fitted their smiles got wider and they inched closer and closer to the boats. The instructors were captivating and knowledgeable and wonderfully responsible in regard to cultural sensitivity, language, expression, and timing. They waited until all the kids were ready and then helped them on the boats. I have never seen the kids be happier. It was two hours of pure joy. The dimples, the missing teeth smiles, the shrieks of laughter, and shouts of joy were all that could be seen or heard. 

Then they never stopped talking about it. For the next couple of weeks the conversation between the parents, students and COMSA revolved around sailing. Some families did not know that this was a fresh water lake. Somalia has a long coast line of ocean so this was a very interesting subject to many of their parents. They have a keen interest in fishing! They wanted to learn a lot more about the great lakes. Some parents listened captively and then translated for the other parents to explain where Green Bay was on lake Michigan. One student began drawing and painting and writing about the lake he just sailed and the seas of his childhood. More parents began asking if their child could sail as well. 

By the time our next sailing session came we had almost 30 new Somali students wanting to sail and parents came to watch the lesson. By the end of the next sailing session, a father who had previously had his doubts about his kids attending this outing had fully changed his mind and was engaged in full on conversations with the instructors about how he could charter a fishing boat for his family. 

This is a new life here in Green Bay for many Somali Families. Those three experiences with your non profit gave them the courage to try something new. It empowered the parents to be able to make trusting, informed decisions about how their children spend time in a new culture and in a new community. It empowered the kids to learn a skill that was in nature, breathing fresh air, encouraging them to learn new things, and feel good about it. 

Thank you for letting them do this surrounded by their friends and family. Thank you for working with us to ensure that it was such a positive experience. Thank you for modeling what mentorship and support look like from Green Bay to a new population of families who are learning how to create a new normal for themselves. This is what promotes resilience! Exposure and access to sport, play, and healthy environments can all be the protective factors for these kids and their families so thank you for these opportunities and I hope our COMSA/ Sailing adventure continues on next summer.  "
Katie S. - COMSA Representative S. - COMSA Representative
"Just a brief note to express how much I enjoyed the sailing lesson last Monday. Sam was an excellent instructor and guide. He explained the fundamentals and answered all of my questions. It was a thrill to go out on the water and immediately experience the lessons firsthand.  I look forward to more participation so I can build on what I learned. "
Rolf Z. - Private Lesson Student
"I am from Minnesota. I was online searching for a gift card to a unique adventure  for my friends. It took a bit to find the right experience. 

We are a group of seven couples giving one gift. The wedding couple enjoys travel so the gift is coming in one suitcase with vintage travel items inside. Each item and the corresponding gift represents something about each couple and the journey that married life is. The real gifts are a certificates for the wedding couple to do together. There is a gift certificate to a local winery, the movies, a wall print, Menard's, the National Railroad Museum, a local escape room adventure, and your sailing experience. 

The sailing experience makes the point that in life, as in sailing, there isn't a lot of room. One of our couples has moved a lot in their time together. So their experience represents that concept. And the marriage advice is, as you pack your life, make sure you are packing what is truly important and needed. An experience like yours is a glorious way to get that across.

So your online presence is what led me to you. Keep that up. And make sure they post a comment whenever they get to turn in the certificate.

This is a great wedding gift. That's why I bought it for them. Cash is too impersonal. How much better a day together on the open water doing something new and fun that demands some teamwork from the couple. I can't wait to hear how it goes.
I hope you continue to have success in the future. It is a valuable asset for the community."
Sarah G.
"This was the best day of the Summer! I cannot believe I've never sailed before! It was so fun being on the water and making friends. GBS&P helped me make memories I'll never forget. Thank you GBS&P!"
Katie
"I’ve never realized what I learned in math class could be applicable to real life! I felt like the captain of a ship to conquer the waters!"
Nicole
"This was the most rewarding job in my life. Working with kids from all walks of life to help them find something to give them confidence and help them grow."
Mike
"The kids had a blast on the water which allowed them to appreciate connecting STEM with the fun they were having. Thank you GBSP!"
Eli
"My wife and I had a wonderful time sailing with Green Bay Sail & Paddle this last season. The lessons, which were run by knowledgeable and passionate instructors, were extremely helpful since we were just beginners when we started. Plus, the sailing we were able to do on our own through their boat rental was amazingly! I think sailing is so enjoyable because by simply choosing the weather you go out in and how aggressively you sail it can be relaxing, exciting, or both!"
Matt O.
"Outdoor Adventure and learning new skills are just some of the things Girls Scouts gained by partnering with Green Bay Sail & Paddle. Girls practiced teamwork, applied STEM knowledge, and enjoyed supported risk taking. The informative, guided instruction helped manifest our mission in action as many girls exhibited courage and confidence to sail on their own! The Girl Scouts were thankful and appreciative for great instructors and are looking forward to continuing to use their new skill! Thank you Green Bay Sail & Paddle."
Karmen L. - Chief Executive Officer, Girl Scouts of Northwestern Great Lakes
"Being a part of Green Bay Sail & Paddle was the most amazing part of my summer. Knowledgeable and friendly staff made learning safe, fun, and easy. Now I volunteer to share the joy.  Thanks, GBSP!"
Mary Clare V.
"Green Bay Sail & Paddle is bringing to life the beautiful waters and resources we have here in Green Bay, WI! The opportunities for everyone of all ages– from young children and teens to adults and parents quickly change lives and become memories forever."
Morgan J.
"Our family was honored to participate in the GBSP program in Green Bay again this summer.  Our first summer, we were amazed at the confidence it built in our daughter. This year she came back for the Sailing 1 & 2 classes.  The first lesson, Owen and Chris waved her over to their side, letting her know that she was one of them. Realizing she was a part of the program and that she had something to contribute to her peers built on that confidence.  Her dad decided to take the class as well. So now they have this great hobby to share but one where she gets to be in the leadership role. That doesn't come around often for a 3rd grader.  GBSP has created a space where my 9 year old knows she is welcome and that her contribution is welcome and encouraged.  Everyone in this group has always welcomed us with open arms and we cannot thank them enough for the opportunity to take part."
Francie C.
"Green Bay Sail & Paddle operated like a well-oiled machine."
Parent of Participant - Boy Scout Small Boat Sailing Merit Badge
"We had a bunch of fun today! We learned how to recover from capsizing, how to pick up a man on board if they fell off. You got to know your partner, and it was fun talking!"
Brooke J. - participant Basic Sailing 1
"We came out here sailing today, not really knowing what to expect. I think the kids loved it. It really had a lot of teamwork. I saw a lot of kids switching from side to side, helping each other, getting the mast down, steering.  There was a lot of friendly competitions. A few were nervous when we first got out here, and at the end they were just laughing and splashing, having a great time.  In the end, I think it's great for team building, self-esteem, some of my shyest kids were some of my best sailors."
Amy O. - Southwest H.S. Phy. Ed. Teacher

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