According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the second leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 14, and African American children ages 5 to 14 are three times as likely to die from drowning as white children. Lack of access to public swimming pools, along with a negative perception of water, contributes to these statistics.
“Swim School aims to address the problem of child drownings by helping kids learn about water safety,” said Jessica Mieling, director of aquatics at the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee. “We are grateful to Rickie Weeks for his generous donation and look forward to empowering even more children to be confident and safe in the water this year.”
Swim School launched in 2011 as a partnership between the Y, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter James Causey and local business leader Barry Mandel to provide swimming lessons for 120 children from Lloyd Street School. In its first year, 91 percent of the student participants reported knowing how to swim after completing the program – up from 15 percent at the start of the program. Additionally, prior to swim school, 86 percent of students reported being afraid of water, and at the end that percentage dropped to 14.
“I am thrilled that the Brewers Community Foundation has facilitated a contribution from Rickie Weeks,” said Cecelia Gore, executive director of the Brewers Community Foundation. “Weeks, along with Mark and Debbie Attanasio, are pleased that we can be a part of effective programs that impact the quality of life for children and their families.”
The fall 2012 session of Swim School will serve 110 students from Brown Street Academy and Keefe Avenue School, with an ultimate goal of serving 500 youth during the 2012-2013 school year.