Yale Community Rowing (YCR) was happy to partner with Dylan's Wings of Change this summer in creating a pilot Wingman program specific to the sport of rowing. Since 1999, YCR’s core mission has been to create a comfortable learning environment where children can increase self-esteem and enjoy a unique team bond through their participation in the sport of rowing. While out on the water self-gratification comes from the crew's success and this is achieved by each rower working in time and unison whether in a large training barge or sleek racing shell. The introduction of the Wingman program this summer, provided the YCR staff with additional resources to ensure a supportive environment for all participants.
This Wingman program was geared towards one of our community outreach groups. Through a joint collaboration with New Haven Promise and the Elm City Housing Development, middle school aged children from New Haven were introduced to the sport of rowing and also developed their communication and cooperation skills through challenging and fun team building activities.
The overall atmosphere provided to the children was very friendly and open. Participants built strong personal connections with our staff and with one another as the Wingman core values were introduced. The Wingman program taught them about how to be a leader in a group, how to build a strong team, and how to take losing and negativity in a productive way. The two biggest cores values that impacted these children the most were “Winning isn’t everything” and “Never Put Someone Down”. Creating a journal of their experiences as well as the hands-on activities helped get these messages across to the participants and deepened their perspective of life in a team or sport setting, as well as an everyday scenario. On the water they needed to work together to get the barges or shells moving, and off the water they needed to respect one another and grow stronger as a whole. The last day of the program was bitter sweet, the hard work of rowing was over but the participants had made connections and learned new skills that they can take with them on their journeys to becoming young adults.