This is tragic! As you may have already heard, two families are mourning the loss of six teens in a drowning incident in Louisiana on Monday. There are so many heart-wrenching details about this story but perhaps the most troubling of all is that it might have been prevented if the kids, or the adults who stood by helplessly watching, knew how to swim.
The kids and their families had gone to the river to escape the brutal heat. Seven of the children were wading in the river when one stepped off into a deep area and fell in. A bystander pulled him out but the other six, ranging in age from 13-17 drowned. How awful it must have been for those parents, standing on the banks of the river, listening to their kids call for them, knowing they were powerless to help! Six lives cut short in minutes.
I was raised around water and my mother made sure my sister and I knew how to swim by the time we were 5 years old. I can remember being in the pool and mom telling us we could not get out until we held our faces in the water for a few seconds. She was demystifying it for us. Casey and Cole took swimming lessons beginning at 4 and 5 until they mastered the skill. Both are very strong swimmers now – but that is not the case for most African American children. Roughly two thirds have low to no swimming ability. Some attribute it to minority children’s lack of access while others maintain years of segregation kept blacks from public and private pools. Whatever the reason, that is a statistic that needs to change and fast.
Nine people drown every single day in the country; for minority children that number is more than double the national average. You can help by making a donation for swimming lessons for an inner city child by going to The USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash Program.
Swimming is not only a recreational sport it is a survival skill. Let’s make sure everyone has the chance to learn.