Gamsun Project swim class post-Yutu
Gamsun Project swim class post-Yutu

“Save the Guma Sakman” petition gets 1000 signatures in 24 hours

by Emma Perez
500 Sails

Saipan, CNMI – January 31, 2019 – 500 Sails was honored and humbled to find that its “Save the Guma Sakman” petition received over 1,000 signatures within 24 hours of being posted. The petition is online at http://www.tinyurl.com/gumasakman.

The traditional canoe building, sailing, and swimming non-profit was recently informed by the Department of Lands and Natural Resources that it would soon lose access to the Guma Sakman in Susupe, the location from which it offers free sailing training and swimming lessons to the community. Unless the government reverses its decision, 500 Sails will be forced to vacate the Guma Sakman by March 30th.

“The 1,000 petition signers were overwhelmingly from the CNMI and the strong response shows that the programs are important to the community,” said 500 Sails Executive Director Pete Perez. “Petitioners have the option to give their reasons for signing and it was gratifying to see that the most common reasons are the very reasons that we created the programs – to improve health in the community and to promote and preserve our unique culture. Many saw the programs as particularly beneficial to youth who need to learn to swim to be safe on an island and many appreciated the opportunities for outdoor activities. Another often repeated reason was our programs are free and that for many there are no affordable alternatives.”

Perez hopes that government decision makers will hear what the signers are trying to tell them – that the decision would be a mistake. For the CNMI government to pull its support of an ANA funded development program in its third and final year, a program that is clearly loved, needed, and working, just doesn’t make sense.

As of 8:45pm Thursday, the petition has over 1150 signatures and growing.

To learn more about 500 Sails, visit 500sails.org or follow us on Facebook @500SailsDolphinClubSaipan.

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