Hood River Middle School: Designing Waves

hraudience1It takes a certain skill and courage to launch into a huge wave, there’s a lot of ways the ride could go.  On Friday, November 20, our education program developer and training facilitator, Judy Shasek, launched into her own type of wave.  It was the last class of the last day before Thanksgiving break. Imagine 300 energetic and excited middle school students pouring into their school auditorium revved up and looking forward to a long break from school.
The students had the power of a wave cresting – how would they react to sitting quietly for an hour and watching THE SUP MOVIE? Shasek stepped onto the stage with butterflies, then immediately the students settled into a quiet and attentive group. It wasn’t magic – it was a culmination of many things. hrout

Principal, Brent Emmons, and the teachers have a culture of respect fully expected and the students  honored that. In addition, all the students had enjoyed a full preparation for the movie. They did the pre-film activities that are part of “It’s YOUR Wave – Ride It.” They knew that their own dreams and goals were as much a part of the experience to come as the surfing and adventures being shared in the movie.

Education Program and trainer, Judy Shasek, prepping for the event at Hood River Middle School.
Education Program and trainer, Judy Shasek, prepping for the event at Hood River Middle School.

Here’s how the event went according to Shasek,”It was a great experience working with principal, Brent Emmons, and the staff at Hood River Middle School. The teachers had showed a 13-slide program to prep the students for experiencing THE SUP MOVIE. The slides were accompanied by a script that explained things as Kai Lenny would have done – if he had been there. Then the students did a survey that invited them to notice things like the powerful sound track in the film and universal themes like creating a life that opens opportunities to dreams and goals.

The students watched in rapt attention for the entire film. While most were not surfers or paddlers, they were totally engaged. Before the start of the film we talked about their dreams. They could be musicians, artitsts, authors or athletes. Maybe they would become builders of houses, designers of cars or aeronautics. They could be teachers or ranchers, fishermen or whatever connected with their talent and passion.  I think they felt very connected to Kai and that enhanced the experience of watching THE SUP MOVIE.

Kai Lenny inspiring youth at the 2014 CGPC Positively Kai event
Kai Lenny inspiring youth at the 2014 CGPC Positively Kai event

When the students return to school they will do a reflection worksheet with their classmates. A few who might become especially inspired will be invited to go one step further in describing their dream and how they hope to make that life journey a reality. We have activities and support that will provide the students with community connection and tools for that journey.

None of this could happen without the support of the Kai Lenny Foundation – and the engagement of school staff.  I am blessed to be able to do this work.”

hrkaiWe have all heard the Chinese proverb, ‘Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.” The very youth we hope to impact and inspire were the catalyst toward the development of some of the most valuable pieces of the “It’s YOUR Wave – Ride It” program activities. To learn more about how that development occurred, take a look at “Wave Dreams – Wave Ripples.

Stay tuned – this story is not over.



(An article for “It’s YOUR Wave – Ride It” by SUP athlete and teacher/writer, Judy Shasek/Elder SUP)

Steve and Nick - in a rare moment of sitting
Steve and Nick – in a rare moment of sitting
Steve Gates explaining the course (complicated and cool) to the team

A constant at every Naish Colombia Groge Paddle Challenge (CGPC) I have been to is the high energy, brilliant smile and dedicated leadership of the humble and wonderful, Steve Gates. Recognized for his coaching of the Hood River youth involved in both the Big Winds JET and DEVO teams, Steve has had a lot to do with the deep field of talent in this year’s Grom and Super Grom race.

stgteamThis year we decided to kick off the CGPC weekend with a showing of THE SUP MOVIE sponsored by the Positively Kai Foundation (mahalo, Kai Lenny). With the help of the staff at Big Winds and TJ Guilizia we got the word out and had a packed house on August 20th at Andrew’s Pizza and Skylight Drafthouse Theater (thanks for the donation of the venue!) SMHR3

A full house meant there were more generous people buying raffle tickets and generating funds to benefit the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Colmbia Gorge.  The place was packed and energy was high as swag from Big Winds, an autographed Hurley hat and signed poster for each attendee were shared -thanks to Kai Lenny . smhr1

Justine Ziegler of Big Brothers Big Sisters

The film began – and there’s nothing like an incredible story tied to fantastic surf shots to keep a full house mesmerized. The sound track was impeccably matched to each film segment and heard from the big-screen sound system the experience could not have been better.

Best of all – we connected with Brent Emmons, principal of Hood River Middle School, and some teachers in order to plan an “It’s YOUR Wave Ride It” program for early Fall 2015. Read about that program to really understand the impact the Positively Kai Foundation is having on young people – a great film, generous donations – and a program that allows youth themselves to be the proactive dreamers and doers for their life vision.

Kai Lenny inspiring youth at the 2014 CGPC Positively Kai event
Kai Lenny inspiring youth at the 2014 CGPC Positively Kai event

Networking and Influence

bop8In the world of standup paddling and the variety of watersports I compete in there seems to be no end to the feeling of team, ‘ohana and friendship.  There are certain core values that lead to success in life and in sport. I am fortunate to experience a career path that encourages those core values. The more I travel and the more people I meet, the more obvious the connections between people, goals, resources and support become. The networking that results is a natural outcome of the competitions, training, experiences and opportunities.

Young people often feel that they need to wait until “later” to have influence or to develop a network that will support their journey toward their dream. I would like to share a story from one of our “It’s YOUR Wave – Ride It” trainers, Judy Shasek, that absolutely proves that kids can make a difference now. They can gain the support and design the path to their dreams – with our guidance. Here is the story:

“After seeing The SUP Movie in school in early April,  five middle school girls took the leap and filled out a mini grant application.  As the trainer, I applied for a number of grants with the idea to use the grant funds to help each girl move closer to her dream – right now. While waiting for the grant funding, the group did the ‘Wave Dreams – Wave Ripples‘ activity with a dozen of their peers. The ideas and “next steps” they designed were absolutely valuable and do-able immediately. (The story of their next steps and progress begin here )

One student will be graduating June 4 – next week.  Her BIG goal is to take Reba, the rescue horse she has been working with for 8 months, back home (in another state) after graduating. The student, Molly, has taken an abused, fearful young horse and brought that horse to being trusting of humans, to follow voice commands and to have a chance at a happy life. I went to observe Molly and Reba during a visit to Equine Outreach. On the walk over from the school, we chatted about what ideas the students had generated for Molly during the ‘Wave Dreams – Wave Ripples’ activity.

During the visit at Equine Outreach, Molly introduced our program/curriculum developer, Judy Shasek, to Board of Directors member, Woody Dow.  Molly groomed Reba as Woody explained the need for an event coordinator for fundraising activities on behalf of Equine Outreach. In Judy’s words, “I listened, so impressed by the work being done and the positive impact for both the horses and the people who worked with them. Suddenly Molly had an idea! eo2

She knew that I could write grants and that Woody needed grant writing help. It was a serendipitous meeting for sure. I would absolutely help them with grants. Molly was beaming. On the walk back to school we talked about how amazing it was that she was able to bring two people who were in HER network together. She was an influential catalyst for something important to Equine Outreach – a place that meant the world to her.”

eo1In a way, as she graduated, she could be confident of leaving a legacy behind. The network did not stop there. I know some people who would make great adoptive “parents” to Reba, to continue to love and care for her as Molly moved on. Judy shares, “Molly suddenly gained a powerful lesson, an awareness of the power of her own network and influence right now. By sharing, connecting and communicating – while following her passion – she moves closer to her dream.”