Holyoke Rows program offers to help teens throughout western Mass.
HOLYOKE, MA. (WGGB/WSHM) - A free after school program for teens is once again being offered in Holyoke. It’s a rowing program that has been helping kids in the area for decades.
This spring, Holyoke Rows continues their longstanding tradition of offering free row programs to students after school across western Mass.
Director of the boathouse Stephanie Moore told Western Mass News Holyoke Rows has been operating out of the Sue Ellen Panitch River Access Center for over 20 years.
“Holyoke Rows is a community building organization,” said Moore. “We do kayaking, rowing, boating and canoeing and we offer a high school rowing team.”
Moore told us students from all around western Mass. Can join their after-school team and compete against other schools. She said their program is something fun and healthy for kids to do and helps them build a sense of community.
“Right after school you just for me I just walk all the way down take a shortcut and then I’m already here really healthy and good,” said Xavier Thompson, a freshman at Dean Tech.
“I feel like this is really a good help for the community and helps kids like get involved and help spend time with each other getting to know each other and helping each other out,” said Hery Sierra, a freshman at Holyoke High North campus
Moore said this experience has led many of their former rowers to careers on the river.
“One of our middle school rowers went through the program, and coaches for Suffield Academy,” said Moore. “We have kids that come back and work for us, which speaks a lot of the program I think.”
Western Mass. resident Michelle Barnaby told us the program helped her granddaughters with anxiety. She said they wouldn’t be the women they are today without Holyoke Rows.
“It relaxed them a lot so that it took their fears away,” said Barnaby. “I think they are very brave and independent young ladies now
The program will be accepting new high school rowers through April, Moore said they race all through May and finish off the season with a home race in June.
“We would love to have more people, sort of, but we didn’t have any program during COVID so we’re building from that,” said Moore. “All of our rowers are sophomore or freshman so we’re in a building phase and we’d love to just introduce it to more kids.”
Moore added that they also have a free middle school row program that kicks off in the middle of April.
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