Sailor offers help to inner city youths

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Capt. Chris German jump-starts program to give children in Connecticut a chance to hit the water

Capt. Chris German jump-starts program to give children in Connecticut a chance to hit the water

Up until a year-and-a-half ago, Capt. Chris German was content with his job as a sailing instructor for the Pequot Yacht Club in Fairfield, Conn. When he saw the need to do something more with his talents, he poured his time and resources into creating the non-profit Connecticut Community Boating, which would allow inner city youths from Bridgeport, Conn., and all over the state to learn how to sail.

“Sailing is really what changed my life,” says German. “There is absolutely no greater rush than to see that ‘eureka’ moment on a child’s face when they are on a sailboat, and they have it moving in a purposeful way.”

German was slated to start a sailing program June 23 on SeasidePark in Bridgeport, the official start of summer for students. The class is available for youths ages 8 to 18, and the first 250 students can learn for free. The rest have to pay an overall program fee of $250 for the summer-long course, with a maximum class load of 600 kids.

“I’ve poured a lot of my own money into this, because I think it is important for inner city kids to have these kinds of opportunities they don’t usually get,” says German. “I spent most of last winter grant-writing.”

German says the program is still looking for more children at this time to join, and is also seeking private donors.

“I tell people every $250 you spend helps out a kid,” says German. “I grew up in Stratford and started learning to sail from the Sea Scouts in a Pearson 30-footer, and I’ve been boating my whole life. Now I’m the skipper of that very boat. You never know where those skills will be helpful.”

German’s educational fleet consists of his own Cal 34, eight 14-foot Hunter 140s purchased in March, and two donated keel boats, one at 19 feet and the other at 31 feet.

“We’re also looking to get a few kayaks, and we offer adult programs as well,” says German. “It’ll be a thrill to develop some of these kid’s adventurous spirits.”

For information, visit http://ctcommun.dot5hosting.com or call German at (203) 382-3661.

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