BOSTON (WHDH) - All hands on deck – a program in the seaport is helping students build boats!

Community Boat Building is a non-profit organization that partners with Charlestown’s Harvard Kent and Mattapan’s Young Achiever’s Schools.

“We are hoping to really engage in academics in a hands on way to show the relevance of it and to bring kids back to education before they decide it’s not for them,” said Kelly Crawford, Community Boat Building’s Development and Operations Manager.

Each year, Community Boat Building teaches more than 200 fourth and fifth graders how to build a fully functional row boat in just one week’s time.

“I didn’t think I would be here building boats,” said student Jamar Bell. His brother, Elias Bell, added “Me and my friends were nervous, we didn’t want to get on that boat.”

Though anxious at first, Jamar and Elias Bell climb aboard the program to learn math, geometry, how to swim, and row.

For some of their classmates, it’s their first time being on the water.

“We are really connecting with the fact that Boston is a maritime city, and to kind of embrace that,” Crawford told 7News.

However, the program can’t make waves alone. Crawford told us that volunteers work with the kids as well, and together they finish 18 boats by June.

“It’s good for the kids, and it’s also good for the big kids like us. It keeps us busy and you get to stay active. We enjoy doing it,” said volunteer John Beasley.

For the past 8 years, Beasley has been donating his time and carpentry skills to the program. Meanwhile, new volunteer Margit Conrad paints and varnishes the boats.

“It means a lot to me to help a program that helps children,” said Conrad. “I was a child that needed help and didn’t get it, so it’s extra special to me to be able to give something back.”

The help of the volunteers doesn’t go unnoticed by the kids.

“They would always be there on your side. They will help you and they would show you how to do it, and you can do it,” said Jamar Bell.

“They are very kind, they always want to be engaged in helping someone,” Elias Bell said.

You can find out more about volunteering with Community Boat Building by calling 617-428-0155 or email

Thank you to all of our sponsors for their generous donations.

(Copyright (c) 2023 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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