by Rob Cox, August 8, 2010
Urban kids in the US, especially African American and Hispanic kids, are not learning to swim properly or don't enjoy the same access to public swimming facilities as white kids. Minority kids drown 300% more often than white kids. That's alarming.
For many kids, their parents don't have swimming skills and therefore the perogative to teach swimming to their own children takes a back seat to other parenting responsibilities. Availability of pools is often limited and seasons are short in northern states.
Recently, in northern Louisiana, 6 teenagers drowned, most of them siblings, in the Red River. None of them knew how to swim, and my heart grieves for the families of these young kids.
History is full of similar stories, in Washington, D.C. recently, several youths were memorialized - kids who had no safe place to swim, and no swimming skills, and were found drowned in the Anacostia River.
Managing a public swimming facility, or a private pool costs money - a lot of money. It's a simple fact that pool swimming, especially indoor swimming, is expensive. Swimming lessons are even more expensive, plus the embarrassment to us parents who have put on a few pounds and hate the idea of joining our children in an early "Mommy & Me" type swimming class.
For cash strapped families, swimming lessons are seemingly impossible to afford. But so necessary. Imagine your child growing up with a phobia of water, unable to enjoy swimming, boating, floating, rafting, sailing - and very likely to pass on this lack of skill to their own children.
I was happy to find an organization doing something to make a change - created by the USA Swimming Foundation, called Make A Splash. When you make a pledge to the Make a Splash Sponsor a Swim Lesson program, you're helping to support local programs all across America that provide swim lessons to children who would not otherwise have access to them.
Let's have a Safe Summer - Parents, teach your babies how to swim! If you're a parent in need of swim lessons, contact Make A Splash above, or find creative and safe opportunities to practice swimming with your children. It's one of the best gifts you can give to your kids - swimming is so healthy, great fun and swim lessons saves lives!