2011-09-16 / School News

RWA Completes Full Range Of Summer Youth Activities


Janet Fash and RWA students after a day on the beach. Janet Fash and RWA students after a day on the beach. This summer with the help of incredible educators, volunteers and local youth, Rockaway Waterfront Alliance was fortunate enough to offer local kids a chance to experience the ultimate environmental summer program. The Rockaway community should be proud of these kids but even prouder of the many talented local residents who have been extremely gracious in offering their time and service to local youth.

Kids from throughout the Rockaway peninsula had the good fortune to learn to surf, snorkel and kayak as they took part in conservation work to care for trees, garden vacant lots, plan future parks, and learn to do wetland restoration and marine debris removal to keep our beaches and bay clean. It was a winwin for the community and all involved as the kids aged 10-18 worked with some of the most dedicated professionals. A special thanks goes out to all those people who helped make this an incredible summer for RWA youth. It proves it really does take a village.


Zach Rome of Schooba Academy teaching the kids to snorkel. Zach Rome of Schooba Academy teaching the kids to snorkel. Zach Rome of Schooba Academy took the kids snorkeling and did science lessons focused on the principals of scuba diving.

Janet Fash, Rockaway chief lifeguard and one of the nation’s most well respected water safety experts, led water safety lessons and running relays with students on the beach. Her help has been invaluable in keeping the students safe and making them aware of the dangers of open water swimming.

Don Riepe of American Littoral Society took the students out on his boat to tour the bay and work with them on habitat restoration projects.

Marlen Waaijer of Norton Basin Edgemere Stewardship Group taught the students about the invasive species of plants along the bay and worked with them to restore areas of the Norton Basin Bird Sanctuary.


Students learning CPR. Students learning CPR. John Wright, Tony Pignatello and other members of Sebago Canoe Club took the kids out for their first paddle of the summer season on Jamaica Bay. John Daskalakis and National Park Service brought the kids out on regular paddles from Riis Landing.

Billie Cohen and Nadej Hocini led students in an effort to design and create the Firehouse garden at Beach 59 Street.

Elizabeth Gilchrist of Veggie Island and Andrew Field of Rockaway Taco were there to support the kids and teach them about making their own fresh healthy food and fruit drinks.

Marina 59 owner Ari Zablovski continued to support RWA as a base of operations for many of the conservation efforts on Jamaica Bay.

Beth Perkin led photography workshops for the kids to learn to use a camera and document their summer in their own photo exhibition.

Bobby Augente of the NYC Fire Department led CPR lessons with the kids. The students had a great time not only learning CPR but also dressing up the dummies for photo ops.


Tony Pignatello and John Wright of Sebago Canoe Club. Tony Pignatello and John Wright of Sebago Canoe Club. Frank Cullen and staff at NY Surf School were extremely patient as they brought all of the kids out for weekly surf lessons directly off the beach.

Capt. Sharpe, Capt. Artie Fitzpatrick and Fire Company 265 Ladder 121 helped with the garden.

Joseph Ramlall, Michael Prush of Ocean Village Management, as well as James Bailey and Emily Respass were there to water the garden throughout the hottest months of the summer.

Daniel Ng and Mary Hurson from Catholic Charities who partnered with RWA to employ many of the high school students with jobs in conservation through SYEP. RWA thanks them all.

The kids themselves deserve a huge thanks as well. While there are lots of smiling faces they worked hard all summer and throughout it all they worked together, took calculated risks and supported each other like a team. It was their consistency and good behavior that has opened doors and drew in more volunteers over the summer who wanted to help.

Special thanks to all the RWA staff who oversaw the students this summer: Program Coordinator Elizabeth Manclark; Educators Keneisha Turner, Mark Hoffacker, Sally Reeske, Jennifer Porcheddu, Carrie Fox; Interns Stephanie Valenti, Julia Greenwald; and Summer Youth Interns Uriel Williamson and Jahntez Mays.

This summer’s youth programs were sponsored in part by Aviation Development Corporation, Capital One Bank, NY/NJ Harbor Estuary Program, Million Trees NYC and Foundation of Philanthropic Funds. These programs have allowed local youth the opportunity to take part in environmental programs and field trips that would not have otherwise been possible without their support.

Thanks to everyone for their continued support.

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