Chicago At Risk Youth Takes to Sailing - Part 2

Chicago At Risk Youth Takes to Sailing - Part 2

Back on October 14, 2015 I reported in the Part 1 article how Sail Future was taking nine at risk youths across the U.S. into a rehabilitation program, getting their judges to turn the custody of these 16 to 20 years old over to the program, to give them a different outlook on life by teaching them to sail and complete a trans-Atlantic crossing.

This is not to take “kids on a sailboat ride.”  Besides the sail training, seamanship training according to the press release, “the team will complete a comprehensive, onshore program where they will become advocates for a better juvenile justice system and receive job training and placement. They will learn to give speeches, write op-eds, and set meetings with lawmakers and politicians. They will become educated and well versed in the structures and socioeconomic factors that have shaped their communities and experiences in the juvenile justice system.”

The plan was to train these youths over a two month period in the U.S., put them on a 65′ sailboat on Gran Canary Island to participate in the ARC Rally in November landing in St. Lucia in the Caribbean.  This is a 2,700 mile open ocean crossing.

It all worked out much differently than any of would have guessed.

The 16-year old South Side Chicago youth crewman made a misstep of stealing $80 from one of his crewmates during the training program.  Apology was made, and they moved forward.  Then one of his friends back in Chicago was shot an injured.  He said that this victim was a college graduate, had never participated as a gang member and was doing good.  It made no sense that he was shot.  This created an overpowering homesickness where he left the sailing part of the program and returned back to Chicago.

Today he continues on the right path, he is attending school, has his ups and downs, and has not been arrested since his return.  If you’re reading this Mr. South Side Youth, we are all pulling for you.

After two months of training and practice making reasonably trained sailors out of the remaining youths, they came together as a team.  Again with a twist.

With 10 days to go before the ARC Rally began, the team decided that there was a “breakdown in trust.”  When questioned deeper to get to the underlying root, while not said outloud, it was clear that they were scared to do an Atlantic Crossing.  None had ever experienced anything like it before in their lives and only familiar with their surroundings back home.

The boat withdrew from the ARC Rally, and the youth were flown back to their homes and reported in with their judges.  While Sail Future explained to the judges that the youth would continue with the training, less the sailing portion, the youth participant from Boca Raton, FL found himself re-incarcerated by his judge, for not completing the program as promised.

With the boat in Gran Canary without a crew, Sail Future program directors banded together, flew to Gran Canary and sailed the boat at a later date to St. Thomas where she lies today.  Sail Future is re-evaluating this program to work on a plan that should have a better expected outcome next time around.

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