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Minneapolis Parks Foundation > Common Ground > People for Parks Fund > Minneapolis Sailing Center Removes Barriers to Entry with Free Sailing Opportunities on Bde Maka Ska

Minneapolis Sailing Center Removes Barriers to Entry with Free Sailing Opportunities on Bde Maka Ska

The Minneapolis Sailing Center Outreach Program, hosted by the Minneapolis Sailing Center (MSC), creates accessible sailing and outdoor recreation opportunities by removing barriers to entry in their Free Sailing Sundays, field trips with local non-profits, and scholarships for young sailors. MSC was founded in 1989 and has since grown into one of the largest sailing schools in the U.S. with enrollment of more than 1,200 sailors last summer. With the support of a Minneapolis Parks Foundation People for Parks Fund Grant this year, MSC was able to introduce youth and their families to outdoor recreation through sailing on Bde Maka Ska.

This summer, MSC hosted 4 Free Sailing Sunday events at Bde Maka Ska from June through September that reached a total of 536 people over the course of these three months. Each event took place at Bde Maka Ska and was aimed to open the experience of sailing to individuals and groups that would not typically have the access or opportunity to do so. According to US Sailing, non-white sailors account for 0.2% of all sailors in the United States. Closing this gap presents a unique challenge because sailing has one of the highest barriers to entry of any sport due to real and perceived obstacles. By offering sailing for free and actively seeking sailors from underrepresented backgrounds, MSC strives to create a welcoming environment to introduce sailing and an appreciation of nature to everyone.

Images feature Outdoor Afro MN’s sailing field trip with MSC, Courtesy of MSC.

In addition to Free Sailing Sundays, MSC partnered with 14 community groups and local non-profits for sailing field trips and beginner classes. Within these groups, there were a total of 277 kids and adults who experienced a free 2-to-3-hour sailing field trip, with around 25 of those doing multi-day classes. All of these sailing field trips were offered for free, with numerous other community partnerships that participated but paid some amount on a sliding scale. Organizations that MSC partnered with this year include:

  • Free Sailing Sunday (youth, adults, families)
  • Outdoor Afro MN (mostly adults)
  • Outdoor Latino MN (families and all ages)
  • Girls Taking Action (high school girls)
  • Boys of Hope (middle school and high school boys)
  • Urban Ventures (youth)
  • Simpson Center (youth)
  • Inner City Ducks (youth)
  • New Directions Youth Ministry (youth)
  • Ronald McDonald (youth)
  • True Balance Youth Development (youth)
  • Bolder Options (mixed)
  • Great River High School (youth)

Images feature Outdoor Latino MN’s sailing field trip with MSC, Courtesy of Outdoor Latino MN.

Sailing teaches self-reliance, requires observation of nature and weather, and uses STEM principles to guide the sailboat across the water. Once they have completed a sailing course with MSC, students are prepared for a safe day on the water. They can properly fit life jackets and come up with a float plan with the group, identify key parts of a sailboat and discover how sailboats use sails and a rudder to move across the lake, and know basic math and science principles that make a sailboat move.

“MSC’s Outreach Program takes this one-of-a-kind experience with nature and opens the door to all who wish to pursue the age-old passion of sailing. The core goal of this project is not a quick fix or one-time opportunity, but part of a longer culture change in our organization and the sport of sailing.” -Ted Salzman, Executive Director of the Minneapolis Sailing Center.

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