The Proud Mamas, 11 young mothers who are part of the Young Parents Program at Boston Children's Hospital, won yesterday's regatta at Brunelle's Marina by defeating teams from Holyoke and New Haven. But the Mamas, who hail mostly from Brighton, Mattapan, and Dorchester, were also celebrating an awakening to their ability to tackle any obstacle blocking their path.
The Young Parents Program provides support, gives the women information on child care, and educates them on being a good partner with the fathers.
This was the second year the Mamas rowed in the regatta -- and their second win. It was a capstone experience -- earned after months of training, complicated juggling of work, school, and home -- and an event that celebrated their devotion to motherhood.
The regatta is part of the Rowing Strong, Rowing Together program now in its seventh year at The Care Center, an alternative education organization in Holyoke catering to young women who want to complete a GED program and are either pregnant or parenting. At the center, 85 percent of students go on to pursue some type of college degree. The self-planned program offers a liberal arts education and exposure to sports and academic studies outside their daily routine.
''This is what a liberal arts education does," said Russell Powell, coordinator of the Rowing Strong, Rowing Together program. ''Why we wouldn't offer this experience to these girls just doesn't make sense. They need it more than anybody."
As a long time athlete, I wholeheartedly endorse this approach. There is a connection between mind and body. Healthy activities in a group setting enable positive reinforcement. This positive reinforcement further enables confidence in continuation along this path. Success builds upon success.
This approach works for anyone willing to give it a try.
You do need to take the first step.
You do need to follow through.
Although Sasha Dunn, 23, of Mattapan, was all smiles before the race, she said she was still nervous about competing in her second regatta. ''At first, it was crazy," Dunn said of the group's biweekly practices, which began in April. ''It was hard for us to get together, the boat was really tippy, but eventually, we just kind of clicked."
Dunn balanced criminal justice courses at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, work as a security officer in Cambridge, and the care of her 3-year-old daughter, Makayla Joseph.
Kudos to the Proud Mamas for their success.
Kudos to the hospital program for making this happen.