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Parents always try to inspire their kids to dream big, but for one local father it s the other way around. As the father of two children with learning disabilities, Jason Nelson had long wanted to start a program for them to experience life on the water.

For years, the Tacoma native dreamed of buying a boat to start the program, and recently bought an old Navy vessel. His new program is called the Tacoma Youth Maritime Academy, and is the only full-time sea adventure program for special needs kids.

This is about giving back, but not necessarily just to my kids, but to everybody here, to this town, said Nelson, who has already invested more than $40,000 of his own money into the project.

He estimates the program will need $80,000 more to make the boat fully handicap-accessible before it can be fully operational, but says it also needs volunteers and a new place to moor.

I couldn t get anybody else behind it, so I took it upon myself to do it, said Nelson. Which is ridiculous because I don t have the money to do it, but I m making it happen anyhow.

You can learn more about the Tacoma Youth Maritime Academy here:

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