By NYLU AVERY BERNSHTAYN, age 10

PHOTO: Rocking the Boat
PHOTO: Rocking the Boat

Have you ever thought about working with kids like yourself one day? Meet Adam Green, the founder and executive director of Rocking the Boat, an organization in the South Bronx dedicated to empowering young people by building boats together.

NAB: Why did you start Rocking the Boat?

AG: I was in college and not feeling a great degree of connection to what I was learning, and I wanted to do something that gave me more of a connection to my own experience and the things that were going on around me.

I started as a volunteer at a junior high in East Harlem and helped a group of kids build a boat. It was an idea that a teacher had and offered to me, and I had never done anything like that before. The result was a really special experience that I had with this group of eight junior high school kids. We built this little dinghy that we floated in the pool at the school, and it was just the most exciting thing.

PHOTO: Rocking the Boat
PHOTO: Rocking the Boat

NAB: Can you tell us a little about the organization?

AG: We build real wooden sailing boats from scratch, and we use them to teach everything you need to know about sailing and rowing. We also use them to research and restore the river, and we work with professional scientists to do that.

I know that when I was a student in school, I would think, “Why am I learning this?” At Rocking the Boat, everything that we do can be put into immediate practice, and has meaning and value. So that’s the current that runs through all of our programs. We support kids from ninth grade through college and help them succeed in all the different aspects of their lives that they may not be able to do otherwise.

PHOTO: Rocking the Boat
PHOTO: Rocking the Boat

NAB: What inspired you to do the work that you do?

AG: The sense of purpose and the sense of giving kids the chance to succeed in the world and feel good about themselves. Having something that’s real and works out in the world gives kids a sense of fulfillment, and seeing the impact we have on their lives and seeing where they go and how much they credit Rocking the Boat for where they’ve gone is certainly the thing that keeps me going to work everyday.

NAB: How do you think “boats build kids?”

AG: The opportunity to make something that actually works… builds a sense of confidence and self-esteem. They also learn technical skills, such as math, science and carpentry. Most of all it gives the kids the sense that if they can build a boat, they can build anything, and I think that’s the way boats build kids.