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Kayaking for kids’ cause

by the Daily Pilot

COSTA MESA — Two local schoolteachers will attempt to paddle their way from Catalina Island to Newport Harbor for the second time to raise money for arts education.

On July 16, two Paularino Elementary School teachers plan to make the 26-mile sea crossing in a tandem kayak. They will be trying to repeat their feat from last summer, which they call Kayaking 4 Kids. They hope to raise $6,000, which will be split between their three favorite charities.

“In education, so many programs are being cut — and art is one of them — and it’s such a huge benefit to kids,” said fifth-grade teacher Lisa Roberts.

Roberts, 44, and fifth/sixth-grade teacher Shannon Spining, 47, will paddle the marathon-long distance to raise money for Newport-Mesa’s arts program.

The two are also fundraising for the Orange County Department of Education’s Arts Advantage Program — which helps train teachers on teaching art — and the Orange County chapter of the Sierra Club’s Inner City Outings Program, which gets kids outdoors.

“The teachers’ efforts to fundraise and support programs with their own sweat and tears, literally, is to be commended,” said district spokeswoman Laura Boss in an email. “They are a great example of the dedicated and hardworking teachers and staff throughout N-MUSD.”

Art education helps students show their creativity and gives English-language learners a way to express themselves without words, Roberts said. It also encourages critical thinking, Spining said.

“It creates well-rounded scholars,” Spining said.

Roberts said she and Spining want to ensure that art education isn’t lost in the district and around the county.

The fundraising idea while kayaking — a hobby the two started about three years ago — when Roberts wondered how hard it would be to paddle from Catalina to Newport Beach.

But it was Spining who thought they should try it, but for a good cause, Roberts said.

“I think it’s important to be a part of something bigger than yourself and give back to the community,” Spining said.

Last year, the two made the journey in nine hours and raised $500 each for the county’s Arts Advantage Program, the J.F. Shea Therapeutic Riding Center and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

The two will leave from Catalina Island at 6 a.m. July 16 with two relief paddlers and school board Trustee Dave Brooks following in a boat.

“Hopefully we will see loads of people on the 16th,” Roberts said. “Spread the word, cheer us in and paddle on.”

Get Involved

Follow their journey July 16 with live Facebook updates on the Kayaking4Kids fan page.

Lisa Roberts and Shannon Spining plan to arrive around 4 p.m. at the Newport Aquatic Center, 1 White Cliffs Drive. Supporters will be celebrating from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Online donations can be sent via

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