People Taking Action: Local students enjoy kayaking fun and get help with their SOLs!

HAMPTON, Va. — A few youth in Hampton had fun on the water recently.

The group of students included 13-year-old Abby Leyva, who admitted she was feeling, "Nervous!" For the first time, she was about to get into a kayak.

James Abbott, a paddling instructor with the James River Association, welcomes these kinds of opportunities.

"Yes sir, always exciting. I enjoy giving kids a first-time experience," said Abott the day News 3's Kurt Williams tagged along for the lesson and adventure.

It's all thanks to the National Park Service at Fort Monroe and instructors from the James River Association, taking advantage of the waters at the decommissioned army base in Hampton, which is open for the public to use.

Chris Martin, a community volunteer ambassador with the National Park Service, came up with this pilot program exposing kids to kayaks.

"This has been the project I've been working on since I've been at Fort Monroe 245, and it's nice to see it all come together," said Martin. "I've already gotten a lot of feedback from the parents saying this is the most fun their kids have had in a very long time."

And while the kids are having a blast, this is more than having a good time on a kayak on the water; these kids are learning about Virginia's Standards of Learning. Yes , the SOLs.

In this outdoor classroom, kids get a science lesson about marine life.

"I mean it's kind of cool because next year I have to take the SOL, and I can kind of remember some of this stuff that I learned," 11-year-old Carra Thompson said about the experience.

After spending time in their kayaks, the kids take time to beach them and get hands-on lessons about marine life. They get a chance to use a special net, dragging it along the bottom of the water searching for sea creatures.

The hope is that activities like this reinforce what they're learning in the classroom. And for these reasons, News 3 presented Chris Martin with a People Taking Action Award, along with a $300 Visa gift card from our community partner, Southern Bank.

Chris was grateful and thankful this program is getting results with the students.