Olympic champs throw a lifeline to poor kids who can’t swim
Missy Franklin, Cullen Jones, Rowdy Gaines and a handful of other Olympic champions are climbing into the pool this summer. They want to help American kids learn how to swim.
They've got plenty of work to do.
The USA Swimming Foundation has released its most recent survey. The results were published May 31. They found nearly 64 percent of African-American kids and 45 percent of Hispanic kids have little or no swimming ability.
Also, 79 percent of children in families that bring in less than $50,000 in annual income have little or no swimming ability.
The foundation is issuing $324,000 in grants this year. They will go towards its Make A Splash program. The grants will help fund reduced-cost swim lessons. These will go to more than 25,000 children. They will be participating at 71 pools.
The grants are spaced across 25 states. The foundation has provided more than $4.3 million since 2007. They money helps fund learn-to-swim programs across the country.
"We need to keep a sustained effort to introduce children to swimming. And drive the important message that learning to swim can save your life," said Debbie Hesse. She is the USA Swimming Foundation executive director.
About 10 people drown every day in the United States. About a quarter of those are younger than 14. This is according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC also says African-American children drown at a rate nearly 5.5 times higher than white children.
The study is a follow-up to one first conducted by researchers at the University of Memphis. That was in 2010. In that survey, 70 percent of African-American children and nearly 60 percent of Hispanics had little or no swimming ability.
The numbers have improved slightly over the past seven years. But they still paint a worrying picture.
"The end goal is to create real solutions. (They are) designed to ensure children are safer in the water. Especially minority youth who are at a higher risk of drowning," said Carol Irwin. She is the study's principal investigator.
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why is swimming a bigger challenge for some kids?
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