jackson park yacht club foundation

Sailing for All? Foundation Calls for Boaters to Diversify the Sport

The Jackson Park Yacht Club Foundation is calling on all boaters to help diversify the sport.

Some 200 children are spending part of their summer at the Jackson Park Yacht Club learning how to sail. 

“My mom signed me up," said 16-year-old London Gillespie. "She said, 'You’re going to boating camp.' I was like, 'What is that?' And I didn’t think I was going to like it but actually I really like it."

The yacht club is one of the oldest in Chicago. Their foundation runs the sailing school.

During the two-week program, students learn the basics, as well as some important life lessons.

Karen Harris, president of The Jackson Park Yacht Club Foundation, said the camp teaches “everything from teamwork, conflict resolution, leadership, resiliency."

"They are all taught through sailing," she said.

One of the missions of the Jackson Park Yacht Club Foundation is to create opportunities for all youth- especially on the South and West sides of Chicago.  

They provide scholarships to those who need financial assistance. They also have a training program to teach students how to become certified sailing instructors, as well as pipelining them into college sailing programs and marine careers.

“Unfortunately, boating, and in particular sailing, is still perceived as primarily a white man's sport. Particularly someone who’s rich," Harris said. "So, we really want to start changing that."

The Jackson Park Yacht Club Foundation recently issued a call to action to other boaters to help diversify the sport. They are urging other yacht clubs, sailors and boating organizations to do similar things.  

"If we all work together then we can get diversity on the water," Harris said. "And if we can get diversity on the water, we can get diversity on land.”

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