Mayor Alvin Brown announced at a press conference on Thursday that Waterproof Jacksonville is expanding the number of swim lessons for youth this summer, thanks to a generous donation by attorney Wayne Hogan and commitments from other program partners for donations and in-kind services.
1,800 Swim Lessons
More than 1,800 kids will learn how to swim this summer in lessons offered at Woodland Acres Elementary and 10 Duval County Public Schools summer camps. Waterproof Jacksonville will also provide lessons through the MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation, JaxParks Summer Camps as well as military personnel on a first-come, first served basis.
“I applaud Mayor Brown for being proactive and persistent about this important safety issue: teaching kids to swim because they might not have the opportunity to learn otherwise. It’s my hope they will be safe around the water and that we’ll prevent future drownings. One drowning is too many,” Hogan said. Earlier this week, a five year-old girl drowned in a retention pond. Swim lessons will help kids not only save their own lives, but perhaps save others.
Hogan knows this first-hand. As a boy growing up in St. Augustine, he learned how to swim at the local YMCA and credits those lessons and water safety training with helping him rescue his mom when she was caught in a rip current at St. Augustine Beach.
Unfortunately, Florida ranks first in the nation for drowning deaths for children under the age of five, according to the Florida Department of Health and the majority of drowning deaths happen in the summer, between May and August.
A Community Effort
Waterproof Jacksonville is a partnership with Safe Kids Northeast Florida, the City of Jacksonville Duval County Public Schools and area swim organizations, including the YMCA, Flying Fish Swim Team, Mandarin Aquatic Club, Planet Swim and Swim Safari.
To date, the partners have committed to providing beginner swim lessons to more than 1,800 children, including about 250 Woodland Acres students (Principal Tim Feagins and Councilman Bill Bishop, whose district includes Woodland Acres, attended the press conference), 540 students attending select DCPS summer camps, 90 participants attending summer camp with the MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation. The YMCA will provide lessons for another 248, Swim Safari for 48 and Mandarin Aquatic, Flying Fish and Planet Swim will each provide lessons for 10 youths.
Hogan encourages other businesses and civic groups to join this public-private partnership as it continues to grow. “I’m pleased that new partners in the private sector – Mary Pat and Frank Wallmeyer – are helping expand the effort by donating in-kind swimming lessons to help even more kids learn how to swim this summer.”
For more information on Waterproof, click here, or you can reach them at 904-255-7927.