On the banks of the Delaware River, a group of schoolchildren from North Philadelphia cluster around a fleet of colorful kayaks. None of them has ever been on water, despite the fact that this river, which runs through the heart of one of the busiest urban hubs on the East Coast, borders their neighborhood. Mabari Byrd, Sierra Club’s Delaware Watershed community coordinator, demonstrates how to hold a paddle and climb into a boat. Once he’s ushered each youngster into a kayak and launched it into the calm eddy, he shuttles around the water teaching paddle strokes and soaking in the kids’ reactions to their first-ever experiences with the river.
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