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Grant Enables Expansion of Outdoor Leadership Program

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Grant Enables Expansion of Outdoor Leadership Program
Posted on 02/01/2018
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Rippleffect, a community-based youth development organization, last year successfully piloted a program at Casco Bay High School that teaches outdoor leadership and wilderness skills. Now, thanks to a $50,000 grant from the National Recreation Foundation, Rippleffect will be able to expand the Rippleffect Outdoor Leadership Education program (ROLE) to also include Deering and Portland high schools.

“This is an exciting development,” said Rippleffect Executive Director Adam Shepherd. “Now we can begin laying the foundational work at DHS and PHS to launch the program next school year.”

Also, he said, Rippleffect has received a grant of $25,000 from the Quimby Family Foundation, a $7,500 grant from the Cohen Foundation, and a $10,000 grant from a donor that wishes to remain anonymous. Those three grants also will be used to support ROLE, assisting Rippleffect in its effort to offer the program at the middle and high school levels to local schools at no cost. Rippleffect strives to be a program of access to the outdoor experience for all Maine youth, no matter the barriers that exist.

Shepherd said Rippleffect, a Portland-based nonprofit that offers adventure and wilderness experiences that build confidence and self-esteem, piloted the ROLE program for high school students at CBHS last year for 12 participants.

This program included the following:

•          18 weeks of wilderness guide training curriculum

•          8 practicum expeditions

•          Wilderness First Aid certification training

•          Rippleffect Professional Guide course

•          American Canoe/Kayak Association level 1 instructor training

Rippleffect applied for the National Recreation Foundation grant so it could expand the High School ROLE to add one more program – a joint offering between PHS and DHS. It also will continue to maintain the CBHS program, which is running this year from Jan. 24 to May 27, with 12 students participating. Planned expeditions include trips to Douglas Mountain in Sebago, the White Mountains and a kayaking expedition in Casco Bay.

The combined DHS/PHS program also will have 12 students, with each school filling six spots.

Rippleffect’s ROLE program began in January 2010 as a grant-funded after-school leadership and outdoor education program offered to seventh- and eighth-graders at Lincoln and Lyman Moore middle schools in Portland. The program has since been offered at middle schools in South Portland, Freeport and Falmouth and has an alumni base of over 400 participants.  This program has become a part of school culture in many institutions and has fostered student leaders who have helped shape their school community.

The high school semester program is designed to go deeper and provide participants with credentials for employment and with an experience that affords many opportunities to realize and demonstrate their inherent capabilities. 

Skills and capabilities that student develop through the course include:

 •         Heightened Awareness – Participants will enhance their awareness of self, peer and community and will develop civic, health, and environmental literacy.

•          Communication and Collaboration – Participants learn the components of effective communication, tools for deep listening, practice collaborating in a range of situations and environments, learn the value of being flexible and adaptive to the situation.

•          Initiative and Self-Direction –Participants learn strategies and value of being proactive, time management skills and how to be a self-directed learner.

•          Critical Thinking and Problem Solving – Participants will be repeatedly challenged to solve problems collaboratively and independently.  These challenges will have associated real life consequences.

•          Leadership and Responsibility – Participants will learn about their own inherent leadership qualities and specific leadership tools and models.  Participants will develop project management skills to facilitate group outcomes.

•          Empathy, Compassion and Grit – The curriculum and program experience fosters compassion, empathy and grit through group and individual challenge.

The ROLE program can also provide students with the skills and credentials that can lead  to employment in the outdoor industry, including national and world recognized certifications in Wilderness First Aid Certification, Maine Camp Trip Leader Permit and American Canoe Association Kayak Certification.

On its website – http://www.rippleffect.net/ – Rippleffect says that “hands-on education in outdoor classrooms is fundamental to the healthy development of citizens and communities. We are a passionate group of educators who believe that the supplementation of experiential education into more traditional educational models offers students a more diverse, more fun, and ultimately more comprehensive educational experience.”

Shepherd said Rippleffect is eligible to reapply for the National Recreation Foundation grant for two more consecutive years. “Their goal (and ours) is to give the seed money over three years to set up the program, as we find other ways to fund the effort sustainably moving forward,” Shepherd said.

For more information, contact Adam Shepherd, Rippleffect Executive Director, at adam@rippleffect.net or (207) 791-7870 (Office) or (917) 710-0399 (Cell).