Chesapeake Youth Corps and Universal Access

Five Chesapeake Youth Corps participants pose in front of the new universally accessible boat launch they helped build.

Five Chesapeake Youth Corps participants pose in front of the new universally accessible boat launch they helped build.

Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission

Quick Facts


A Call to Action
Action Item:
Parks for People
Also Promotes:
Next Generation Stewards
Year Accomplished:

National Park Service Chesapeake Bay coordinates a partnership of state, local, and non-profit organizations providing youth with employment skills and outdoor experiences.  The Chesapeake Youth Corps Network (CYC) had a successful year, benefitting from a team of three NPS interns placed with CYC partners, and accomplishing projects connected to the Captain John Smith and Star-Spangled Banner national historic trails. Youth participants learn employment skills, enjoy outdoor recreation, and work on Chesapeake environmental issues. Chesapeake Youth Corps partners are on track to complete 17 NPS-selected trail access development and environmental projects at state and local parks in Maryland and Virginia, and including two national parks, George Washington Birthplace National Monument, and Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine.

One such trail project is the installation of a universally accessible canoe/kayak dock and launch at Bladensburg Waterfront Park on the Anacostia River, managed by the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission (MNCPPC). Bladensburg Waterfront Park is a partner in the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network, and a key interpretive location along the Star-Spangled Banner and Captain John Smith Chesapeake national historic trails.

Five CYC members, ages 15 and 16 and employed by the Maryland Conservation Job Corps, prepared for the project by learning how to safely use hand tools and power tools. They then worked with MNCPPC staff, in the extreme heat and humidity of a Chesapeake July, to remove old decking boards and replaced them with new, pre-treated 2x8x12 lumber. The CYC members also participated in training on a variety of disabilities—emphasizing persons who use wheelchairs, and the importance of adaptable recreational opportunities.

The collaborative work of all the Chesapeake Youth Corps partners led to the design, funding, and implementation of the Bladensburg Waterfront Accessibility Project.  On July 18, key partners and principals who fund and manage CYC and participating organizations traveled to Bladensburg to visit the crew and see the project. On that day, the crew helped install the new EZ Launch system. In the final stage of this project, the crew assisted a mason in replacing pavers with a cement ADA acceptable transition to and from the sidewalk to the dock and the installation of ADA acceptable handrails.

This project fills a gap in universally accessible launches to the Anacostia Water Trail and will be included on the water trail's map and guide being designed by National Capital Parks-East.  As a case study, the project will serve as a model for future CYC trail development efforts.