- Through a partnership with the local YMCA and with funding from a variety of foundations, 1st through 3rd graders in the Plainfield Public Schools in New Jersey will receive free swimming lessons, according to TAPinto Plainfield.
- Certified swimming instructors will teach the program, which will run for eight weeks, and the district will provide transportation and assistance from teachers.
- Ravenell Williams, CEO of the Plainfield YMCA, says that because swimming lessons are not always at the top of parents’ list of things to do, it’s important to offer them during the school day.
Almost 80% of children from low-income families don’t know how to swim, according to a 2017 study conducted by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the University of Memphis. The study showed that if parents aren’t good swimmers, then there is a 70% chance that their children will not develop the skill. While the percentage of children knowing how to swim has increased overall since the study was previously conducted in 2010, it showed that 64% of black children, 45% percent of Hispanic children, and 40% of white children don’t know how to swim.
Following an increase in drowning incidents involving children in Dallas County (TX) in 2015, some district officials in that state stressed the importance of school-led swim lessons. Also that year, the Minnesota legislature passed a measure requiring education officials to look into how schools could provide swimming instruction to all students. But the following year, a work group studying the issue concluded that requiring schools to have swimming pools was cost prohibitive and that it makes more sense to encourage partnerships such as the one in New Jersey.
School administrators in some communities, however, may struggle to find partnerships with local aquatic centers since several have been affected by budget cuts in recent years.