Spring time is a busy time for programs that teach children how to swim. The Robbinsdale Community Edcuation program is bustling with young swimmers, teaching more than 200 students at the Sandburg Learning Center pool and more than 200 also in the pool at Plymouth Middle School.
But there’s also a number of children who do not know how to swim, either because swimming lessons are a luxury parents cannot afford or new cultures do not embrace swimming like other American families.
For the first time, Hennepin County is awarding $35,000 worth of grants to organizations that offer scholarships to underprivileged or at-risk youth.
"At-risk means students who might be at risk for financial poverty, receive free or reduced lunches, or otherwise might be unable to get swimming lessons which is an important life skill especially in Minnesota where we have 10,000 lakes," says Diane Dickmeyer, program specialist with Robbinsdale Area Schools Continuing Education.
Robbinsdale's program is one of several in the county that offer scholarships for students who cannot afford the lessons.
Make a Splash is a national, child-focused water safety campaign that aims to provide the opportunity for all children to learn to swim. The grants were made possible through a partnership between Hennepin County, USA Swimming and Minnesota Swimming.
"It’s recognizing that in some underserved communities, chances are more limited," says Jan Callison, Hennepin County board chair. "Ultimately we are investing in people when we build a field or equipment, it's for kids to use. Swimming is an opportunity to teach a life skill that they will use throughout their life, it will save a life and that’s the right thing to do for Hennepin County."
Other organizations that received funding include Brooklyn Center Community Center, Brooklyn Park Recreation and Parks, Great Wolf Swim Club, Robbinsdale Area Schools Community Education, and YMCA branches that include Minneapolis Downtown, Harold Mezile North Community Youth and Teen Enrichment Center, New Hope and Ridgedale branches.
Shannon Slatton, firstname.lastname@example.org
on Twitter: @sslatton