Learn-to-Swim Classes for African-American Kids: According to the Centers for Disease Control, the drowning rate of African-American children ages 5 to 14 is almost three times that of white children in the same age range. In many cases, the parents’ fear of drowning keeps them from putting their kids in swimming classes or allowing them near the water, which ultimately puts kids even more at risk to drown. USA Swimming, with the help of African-American Olympic gold-medal swimmer Cullen Jones, has developed the Make A Splash program to educate parents and provide learn-to-swim programs.

The numbers are staggering. 70% of African American children, 60% of Latino children and 40% of Caucasian children have low or no swimming ability. The USA Swimming Foundation knew that participation in formal swimming lessons could reduce the likelihood of childhood drowning by 88% and believed there was a way to reduce those startling statistics. So in 2007, the USA Swimming Foundation launched Make a Splash—a national child-focused water safety initiative which aims to provide the opportunity for every child in America to learn to swim. The Foundation seeks to achieve this mission via a national awareness campaign, an affiliate coalition and a robust local partner program.

In 2009, the USA Swimming Foundation launched its Make a Splash Tour with Cullen Jones, presented by Phillips 66. After nearly drowning at the age of five, Cullen Jones overcame his fear of water to win a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He was also the first African-American male to hold a world record in swimming. By sharing his message over the last three years, Cullen has been able to convey the message of water safety and education to a wide audience of parents, learn-to-swim providers, educators and community leaders.

With the common goal of promoting the importance of learn-to-swim and water safety, the Make a Splash Affiliate Coalition is comprised of aquatic industry leaders and community organizations who have joined forces with the USA Swimming Foundation to bring awareness and support to our Make a Splash initiative. 

Through our Make a Splash Local Partner Program, the USA Swimming Foundation partners with learn-to-swim providers nationwide to offset the cost of swimming lessons and educate communities about the importance of learning how to swim.

The USA Swimming Foundation, in collaboration with our Make a Splash Local Partners, have provided more than 177,500 scholarhips for learn-to-swim and water safety programs since 2007 and has granted $2.5 million to provide free or reduced cost swimming lessons to children who may not otherwise have the chance. To date, more than 1.7 million kids have received the life-saving gift of swim lessons through our Local Partner network, comprised of more than 595 qualified lesson providers across the nation!  1

[This is a SUPER important issue I personal feel extremely passionate about ... believe Oakland has a program for this ... will research to find out where classes are offered ... East Oakland?  West Oakland?  If anyone has more information, please add]

Additional Links