The Bronx, having a large low-income and minority population, has been disproportionately hard hit by the coronavirus crisis. According to recent statistics, Bronx residents make up 26% of the New Yorkers who have died from COVID-19, though the borough is home to only 17% of the city’s population. Numbers like these make us simultaneously feel eager to do something to help and helpless in the face of entrenched race and class inequalities that of course preceded the pandemic.
Folk music legend and environmentalist Pete Seeger, who helped inspire the birth of Rocking the Boat more than 20 years ago, used to say, “The world is going to be saved by tens of millions of little things.” One of those little things is taking place right now on scores of computer and phone screens in living rooms, kitchens, and bedrooms in the South Bronx. With the suspension of in-person programming, Rocking the Boat Program Directors got creative in converting their very tangible boatbuilding, environmental science, and sailing program curricula to a virtual format. These sessions are keeping Rocking the Boat, a familiar and wholly positive experience, present in students’ lives. The weekly virtual Rocking the Boat (vRTB) schedule features 14 hours of programs. Every day, the students surmount challenges such as technology issues, responsibility for watching younger siblings, and lack of personal space in crowded apartments to attend.
Physical supplies such as small white boards and markers, tape measures, model boat kits, cleats, rope for knot tying, and flowerpots to plant with seeds are among the learning tools (and unplanned costs) Rocking the Boat has provided to allow students to actively and experientially participate in a way that approximates their experience while at Rocking the Boat. The cost was modest but the impact has been major. Please consider helping Rocking the Boat with your donation, being matched 1:1 today by GoFundMe, and enjoy the satisfaction—hard to come by these days—of making a palpable difference in a kid’s life right now.