WPRI NEWS by: Kait WalshMelanie DaSilva
Posted: Aug 26, 2021 / 07:08 AM EDT


NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — School may have been out for the summer, but the lessons continued in Newport for a group of students on Aquidneck Island.

A program that has been growing over the past few years called “FabNewport” provides an even playing field for children to try out sports and activities they may not otherwise try.

“I’d never done it before and I thought it would be really fun, and it is!” Iana Viveiros said. “It’s not always easy, because it’s a challenge, but challenges are fun.”

While learning a new sport or activity, they are also learning life lessons in what is known as the Newport Experience.

“Accountability, honesty, integrity, we teach all that out here,” FabGolf Instructor Orlando Peace said.

FabGolf is one of the many programs the Newport Experience has offered children free of charge to their families.

“We have almost five to six golf courses on Aquidneck Island and they hardly see anybody that looks like them that are playing, or from their neighborhood, that are playing golf. But now they can see that with a little practice, or a lot of practice, they can be just as good and they have more opportunities to network,” Peace said.

“It’s fun. I struggle with putting, because we’ve mostly just been hitting it far and stuff, but I’ll get used to it,” Angel Viruet said.

The “can-do” attitude echoed at a farm in Jamestown where another group of Newport Experience children got a glimpse at farm life.

“Basically, I’ve been doing FabNewport for about five or six years now,” Autumn Walker said.

Walker remembers when FabNewport started as a way of getting out of the house and learning about Aquidneck Island on bikes.

Founder Steve Heath says it’s expanded from 20 to 80 students this summer, in a variety of programs including golf, creating podcasts, farming, art, self-care, and surfing.

“It’s expensive, transportation is an obstacle, and you also need a lot of young people to help,” Heath said.

Mant people and private donors are willing to financially help in addition to federal funding designated to Newport schools.

“In addition to exposing the young people to things that they were not familiar with, we developed these relationships with kids that were really exciting,” Heath added.

The programs are available throughout the school year with opportunities for teachers to get involved and feel more connected to the community they teach in.