COSTA MESA— Students who attend schools on Costa Mesa’s west side have been relishing in the smell of saltwater air, thanks to a partnership that lets kids test their hand at sailing and, for some, provides access to local waterways for the first time.
Orange Coast College’s School of Sailing & Seamanship is offering scholarships to students served by the Costa Mesa nonprofit Save Our Youth allowing them to partake in a week-long sailing camp where the kids are taught boating basics and then allowed to get out on the water for a hands-on lesson. In addition to sailing camps, SOY also offers water activities, including whale watching during spring break and surf camps during the summer.
SOY seeks to empower teens within Newport-Mesa Unified School District through academic and social programs that motivate them to learn, grow, and make positive life choices. SOY has provided free sailing lessons for youth for 25 years in collaboration with the OCC School of Sailing and Seamanship.
“The board of directors of SOY always believes in providing access to the water and wonderful water activities for our local teens who live on the Westside of Costa Mesa,” said Mary Cappellini, executive director of SOY. “They live so close to the ocean and Newport Harbor but do not have the same ability to pay for expensive sports, like sailing, surfing, and boating because of the costs.”
Newport Harbor and Corona del Mar high schools in Newport have sailing teams and programs that Estancia and Costa Mesa high schools don’t.
“Newport Harbor high school has a sailing team, and we are hoping to get students from SOY who learn to sail to try out for the team,” said Cappellini.
According to Cappellini in an interview with the Daily Pilot, giving kids a chance to sail helps create more equity between schools in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach.
The program prepares kids to think about the courses they might take at a school like OCC which has conducted a sailing program for more than 70 years and preserves an annex facility in Newport Beach, where the camp is held.
Although OCC’s sailing program offers lessons to hundreds of young people each summer, SOY students can now attend thanks to a grant awarded by the California State Parks’ Division of Boating and Waterways, which works to supply safe public access to the ocean, lakes, and rivers.