The East Carolina University (ECU) Adventure Program has received a $2,500 grant from the Paddle Nation Grant Program to take Pitt County, North Carolina, fifth- through eighth-graders out on local waterways.
Brad Beggs, the assistant director of adventure for ECU, said the grant is a great opportunity to further the education of local students, many of which don’t have the opportunity to enjoy the area’s waterways.“Most of the residents that I know, either don’t know we have the river, or they have the reputation of it being dangerous,” said Beggs.
Beggs hopes the program will help dispel this myth, as part of a wider city initiative to make more use of the city’s Tar River. “It’s kind of ideal timing to get more people out,” he said.
As a result of the grant, ECU’s Adventure Program purchased two rafts and related equipment to be used a part of the youth initiative.
Beggs explained the program is also a great opportunity for ECU college students to develop leadership skills and confidence, and act as role models to the youth they take out on the river. “The 7th and 8th graders get to see students closer in [their] age,” he said. “[The college] students just started paddling maybe a year and a half to two years ago, and here they are now able to take people confidently out on the river.”