The Hull Lifesaving Museum is partnering with Norwell’s Friendship Home to bring adaptive rowing to those who might not otherwise be able to participate in the activity.
The first Introduction to Rowing class was held on Saturday, June 11, and was a huge hit.
“Our members were challenged and had a positive experience with trying something new,” said Kimberly Ball, program director for social recreation at Friendship Home.
Friendship Home is an overnight respite and activity center providing day and evening programs for individuals with disabilities. The organization fosters community involvement for participants while providing support and helping them realize their full potential.
The lifesaving museum has partnered with Friendship Home before, so “it was a natural transition to say, ‘Why don’t we try rowing with the members of the Friendship Home?,” said Maureen Gillis, director of development at the museum.
The museum already has extensive rowing programs, with opportunities for adults, youth, veterans, and underserved populations. And while the “museum is accessible to everybody,” the Friendship Home had not yet tried rowing and Gillis “wanted to add that.”
“It’s an inclusive environment that we want to share with the community,” she added.
Eight members of Friendship Home attended the rowing meeting, where they got an introduction to rowing from the lifesaving museum staff.
“The key thing was making sure everybody felt comfortable with getting in and out of the boat and with rowing before the boat was even in the water,” said Gillis.
After making sure they were comfortable, they pushed off into the bay, and Friendship Home members rowed with lifesaving museum rowers for about an hour.
After the rowers came back to shore, they held a team-building meeting to discuss their experiences and what they enjoyed about the process.
“Rowing members were inspired to self-advocate, push through barriers and learn new skills,” Gillis explained. “The most important takeaways from rowing are an increased sense of belonging and fun!”
Ball says she “left the outing feeling a true and natural sense of inclusion for our members,” and that “our members were challenged and had a positive experience with trying something new.”
Both Gillis and Ball are looking forward to more rowing events with Friendship Home in the future. Their next meeting will be in August.
“They can’t wait to come back. They had a great time,” said Gillis.
For more information on this and other lifesaving museum programs, visit www.hulllifesavingmuseum.org.