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Paddle4Tomorrow (P4T) is an Atlanta-based 501c3 that connects youth with each other and the outdoors, no matter their abilities or background. We’re proud to be a supporter of this wonderful organization.
How Paddle4Tomorrow Serves Youth
“Our Mission is to enhance young people’s appreciation of the outdoors, to foster a greater sense of community among all people, and to deliver programs that teach the connection between people and planet as an unbreakable bond.” ~ P4T website
While paddling isn’t the only activity used by P4T in its programming, the name describes their main mission: to connect youth with the outdoors in an educational, fun group setting to help promote a better tomorrow for them.
P4T’s goals include:
- De-mystify the outdoors for kids while giving them confidence with skills development
- Model and teach sustainable outdoor practices
- Encourage the development of leadership skills in these young people
- Promote both self-confidence and respect for others
- Help foster better connections and more appreciation between diverse groups of kids
- Model and teach healthy life skills like good nutrition and exercise
P4T partners with schools and other non-profits to serve children mostly in the grade 3-6 range. In 2023, the team hopes to expand to include middle school and high school programming, too.
Part of what makes P4T unique is the diversity of the children who participate. The team intentionally invites kids from both rural and urban communities—and a diversity of ethnicity, gender and religious affiliation—to join the same events.
“This is both to learn, but quite often they teach as well,” said founder Tony Narcisse. “We believe these early introductions to people from diverse backgrounds are the beginnings of a deeper understanding and appreciation of different cultures. The approach is to combat the negativity of the tribalism we see and deepen the respect we have for each other and the planet.
“We believe the two biggest issues facing us today are how we treat each other and how we treat the planet. We see those issues to be the flip side of the same coin—the disconnect we have from each other and from the planet. Our work is to bridge those gaps.
“We aren’t preachy about it, we just put it into action. We bring kids together who ordinarily would not meet that early in life, and make sure they come together on equal footing. They have this really amazing experience together. Maybe they’ll have less hardened opinions about others later in life because they’ve had these early life experiences.
“And the same with the outdoors. When we de-mystify the outdoors, help them establish a real connection to the outdoors early in life, chances are they’ll be part of the future solution to the environmental problems we’re facing.”
Events and Activities P4T Offers
Each P4T event is several hours long and includes a variety of outdoor activities. There’s always a kayaking experience that’s appropriate for beginning paddlers, whether on a local lake or river.
Other activities might be an interpretive hike with Park Rangers, learning to identify some of the local plants, and an age-appropriate introduction to Leave No Trace. Others include a birding hike or a science program, and they always hope to encounter local wildlife. Every event includes a nutritious lunch sourced from local farmers.
Tony said, “We never want money to be a barrier for participation, so P4T events are always free for participants.” Sometimes they partner with other organizations that do charge a fee, but the P4T team has found a way to keep cost out of the equation. And since the Atlanta area enjoys a mild climate, their events are offered from early spring through fall.
How Paddle4Tomorrow Began
P4T began in 2007 when “a group of passionate kayak anglers organized a field day with local children. That day inspired an outpouring of support and helped enrich our ties with the community and other like-minded organizations, leading us to form Paddle4Tomorrow.” ~ P4T website
In the beginning, Tony and the others were happy to work with the children, plus wounded war vets from Iraq and Afghanistan, Special Olympics events, and other groups that needed help getting on the water. They would even travel with their equipment to other parts of Georgia.
While it was all very rewarding, eventually this all-volunteer organization felt overwhelmed and unfocused. So in 2018 the Board decided to re-organize and re-focus P4T’s vision and efforts back to only working with children in the greater Atlanta area. The only exception to that is their ongoing partnership with annual Special Olympics events.
How You Can Help P4T
Tony expressed his appreciation to Bending Branches on behalf of the organization: “We rely heavily on support from the paddlesports community. There isn't a company that’s supported our efforts longer than Bending Branches. Their support is genuine and the impact is significant.”
Like most non-profits, P4T depends heavily on their many volunteers. If you’re in the Atlanta metro and would like more information about getting involved, see their Volunteer page. And even those not in the Atlanta area can contribute to The Gift fund, which helps pay for their operating costs.
To learn more about Paddle4Tomorrow visit their website, Facebook page or Instagram page.
(All photos courtesy of Paddle4Tomorrow)
Do you have paddle questions our friendly Customer Service Team can help you with today? Contact them: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]
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