Thousands of Seattle Public Schools students learn how
to row every year, using indoor rowing machines brought into their
school gyms, thanks to a district partnership with the George Pocock Rowing Foundation. Last week, the Foundation announced that they are taking the Seattle program nationwide through a new partnership with USRowing.
The program, called Erg Ed™,
began about five years ago, when the district’s Program Manager for
Physical Education and Health Literacy, Lori Dunn, was looking for ways
to bring more physical education and health opportunities into the
“We knew every one of our schools was within five miles of water,” Dunn
said. “But not every child was going to be able to do swimming and learn
about water safety.”
<>The indoor rowing program had
the potential to give students a great workout, education about how
their bodies work and even some water safety skills. And, the George
Pocock Rowing Foundation was willing to support the program by providing
all of the rowing machines, scheduling with the schools, maintaining
and delivering the machines to each school, and training teachers to
incorporate rowing into curriculum. (See what it looks like in the video
below, an excerpt from an upcoming episode of School Beat TV.)
“Erg Ed is great because it meets students where they are – in the classroom – and it’s an explicit invitation to young people to try
something new, particularly to youth who would never otherwise think of
rowing,” said Karla Landis, deputy director of the Pocock Foundation, in
announcing the new partnership with USRowing.
The foundation and Seattle Public Schools started with a one-year-pilot
and one set of rowing machines. Then, they signed on for a three-year
pilot. Today, the indoor rowing program is available to all
middle-school students in 21 Seattle public schools and is being piloted
in two high schools under a five-year agreement between the district
and the Pocock Foundation.
“The bottom line is: It worked,” Dunn said. “It has a fitness component,
it has an equity component, it has water safety and it’s for every
For the George Pocock Rowing Foundation and USRowing, going nationwide
creates “new pathways to the boathouse,” opening rowing to kids who wouldn’t have had the opportunity to climb into a rowing shell.
For Seattle Public Schools, the partnership gives students another way to be active, learn and have fun – all at the same time.