‘Youth and Community Invited to Follow the Wind Into the ‘Heart of the Storm’
Maine couple offer life-changing sailing excursions on 52-foot sailboat
Blue Hill Maine, ( April 30th, 2012) Christina Montano and Nielsen van Duijn are as passionate about sailing as they are about nurturing and inspiring those around them. Working for more than two decades as healing practitioners and social entrepreneurs, the couple recently founded a scholarship-based sailing program for teens called Heart Of The Storm. Through a unique and powerful program young people from all levels of the socioeconomic strata, especially those with no financial means, will not only learn both tangible skill sets and values, such as teamwork, as they sail in the islands around Maine, but will also learn about the importance of developing strong connections between themselves, and on a broader community level.
“We’re not taking the teens out so they can learn how to sail a boat and tie a knot, though that happens of course,” said Nielsen. “Our real goal is to build connections within these young people on the boat, and as importantly, to continue this growth back on shore within the larger context of their communities. Most programs today offer great experiences at sea, but when teens return home, it’s all over. We’re building a sea and land based program that builds real connections between individuals and groups of people that may otherwise not have communicated in a meaningful and positive way before. We’re helping teens get stronger within themselves to weather the inevitable storms from a place of calm, but we’re also seeking to support their communities to do the same. HOTS is really a program for everyone interested in creating more meaningful connections.”
Heart of the Storm recently purchased a 52-foot, solid teak sailing ketch, called Aliento. Its former owner, Rev. George Wilson of East Hampton, is very enthusiastic that Aliento will be an integral component in this new experiential education program for youth and their communities. Aliento is scheduled to make its way north from East Hampton, New York to Blue Hill, Maine, where Heart Of The Storm is based.
For Rev. Wilson, bringing people together, literally and figuratively on the water, has been a strong component of his ministry. “Now I feel that my life is really complete, in a project such as this.” He commented.
Heart of the Storm’s inaugural teen “sail-voyage” is scheduled for July 11-18. Christina and Nielsen, along with a small crew, will lead a co-ed group of six teens in life-changing experiences on the water. The voyages will be documented and filmed in an ongoing series called “Sailing Bridges”. These narratives will be shared on social media platforms, within high schools, and middle schools, and in other organizations such as nursing homes, as a way to inspire and challenge others to also make connections within their communities. Through this grass-roots effort, with its focus on teens exclusive to the Hancock County region, Nielsen and Christina maintain a larger vision of replicating the HOTS model to create similar programs around the country.
Heart Of The Storm is funded through the generosity of private individuals, local community organizations, and business leaders. Local sponsors will have the opportunity to personally meet the young sailors during a ‘meet and greet’ that takes place on board Aliento prior to the sail. Nielsen said they would like to secure at least ten base sponsors that they could count on each year. “Our intent is invite on board every teen who would like to participate,” said Christina. “We do not want to turn anyone away for lack of funds.”
Heart Of The Storm is a teen sailing program committed to fostering positive, enduring, and real connections between people of diverse socioeconomic communities. HOTS achieves this objective by providing sail voyaging-based experiential learning opportunities both at sea and on shore that lead to embracing, acting upon, and coming together through, a mutually shared genuine caring for our teenagers.