Youth and veterans come back from fishing trips
“Changed and Energized.” 

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The idea behind this program is simple, yet brilliant: Take a group of veterans and inner-city kids on fishing trips together.

Providing opportunities for fishing at a young age, as a family activity, or as part of school physical education programs, is vital to cultivating recreational fishing as an interest for tomorrow’s adults. Children that participate in recreational activity with their parents or adult carers are more likely to participate later in life. Successful promotion of fishing to Los Angeles youth can maintain the future of the recreational fishing industry.

Concurrently, promoting outdoor recreation throughout life can improve lifelong health for participants. To date however, the health benefits associated with recreational fishing have been difficult to quantify. The primary reason people partake in outdoor pursuits such as recreational fishing is to relax and unwind. With clear evidence supporting physical activity and a healthy diet high in seafood as beneficial to health and the prevention of chronic conditions (McManus and Newton 2011; McManus. A., White. J. et al. 2011; Newton and McManus 2011), it is both logical and intuitive that recreational fishing could offer substantial health benefits.

The study found the strongest areas of evidence related to youth development, breast cancer recovery, positive mental health outcomes, recreation for the disabled and participation as a sport. There were programs and events run throughout Los Angeles allowing children the opportunity to fish. Each of these initiatives focused on education and environmental awareness.

In many cases, fishing was used as an incentive to deter antisocial behavior with excellent results. Recreational fishing gave children who did not find classroom social dynamics easy, the opportunity to shine and to form friendships outside their own school. For example, older children had the opportunity to mentor younger children which increased their own self efficacy and self-confidence. Of great interest are the findings that hyperactive children were seen to sit quietly by the water for long periods of time and uncommunicative children vocally expressed that they want to fish.

Volunteer-led recreational fishing activities were also popular outside of the school setting. This report provides many examples from all over Los Angeles. Skills developed over a lifetime not only provided health benefits for seniors but put them in a unique position for intergenerational transfer of recreational fishing knowledge. Also, children and adults with disabilities were able to partake in fishing largely due to a large base of volunteers and funding from organizational bodies.

Beyond the large body of anecdotal evidence supporting relaxation and stress reduction, a clear benefit has been noted for women recovering from mastectomies or related surgeries. The action of fly fishing is an excellent way to recover upper body function and maintain or extend range of motion, in a supportive and social environment.

“What a pair” a challenging life situation and program providing a space for people (veterans, youth and senior citizens) to learn leadership skills and most importantly, to heal.