The Young Mariners Foundation (YMF), a local nonprofit organization, honored 111 fifth-grade students who completed their after-school program Tuesday afternoon at the . Students and parents began the afternoon with a boat ride on Long Island Sound followed by a picnic and certificate ceremony back on land.
YMF serves low-income Stamford students who may not otherwise have the opportunity to learn to sail or be on the water. The elementary after-school program teaches students the basics of swimming and water safety so that, after their graduation, they are ready for the YMF summer camp. Middle school students can continue with the summer camp program for 3-5 years. The summer camp days are divided in half, with both time spent on the water and in the classroom learning water ecology, navigation and other maritime skills.
“We essentially base our curriculum on Connecticut state standards," Priscilla Young, development director at YMF, said. "Our teachers are certified teachers so students can both learn how to sail and academics.”
“My son loved the program," Carli Marchese, mother of a fifth grade YMF student, said. "I don’t know if we can fit the summer camp into our schedule, but we’ll try. Right now, he’s just doing it for fun.”
YMF began in 1997 as the Rusty Angers Memorial Scholarship Fund, which provided low-income inner city students opportunities to sail. The program expanded to include school year extracurricular sailing activities. According to YMF, its students improved in science, math and social studies by 48, 43, and 29 percent, respectively, according to Connecticut state standards.
To date, nearly 2,000 students have participated with programs through YMF. The foundation works with partners, including the , , the United States Power Squadron and the American Red Cross.