Every child should know how to swim, and the Russellville Aquatic Center is starting a new sponsorship program to make swimming lessons more readily available to local children.
“Kids need to know how to swim, especially in our area,” Melissa Beatty, co-manager of the Russellville Aquatic Center told the Lions Club on Tuesday. “Kids need to know water safety.”
While the Russellville Aquatic Center offers swimming at the lowest cost in the area – $60 for eight 45-minute lessons – there are still families that can’t afford to send their children to the aquatic center to learn how to swim. To help make swimming lessons more widely available, the Learn-To-Swim Sponsorship program was born.
“We wanted to see if we could provide 100 free lessons this summer, starting with pre-school children,” Beatty said.
Swim lessons are vital to teaching children the importance of water safety. Drowning is preventable, and formal swim lessons reduce the risk of drowning in children ages one to four years old by 88 percent.
The lessons taught at the aquatic center are certified by the American Red Cross.
In Russellville, more than 20 percent of the population is at or below the poverty level, which makes it difficult for families to afford swim lessons.
“A lot of times, these families will go out in the summer to rivers and lakes and swim where there are no lifeguards. There’s no one watching out for them,” Beatty said.
Teaching children to swim is also a personal mission, Beatty said, since one of her children had an incident in a pool that could have turned tragic.
“My child was in a lazy river when he got trapped between two rafts,” Beatty said. “He said he was really scared, but he thought to himself, ‘what would my mom say? Flip over and float.”
The boy rolled over and floated on his back until he could get to safety. There was a life guard on duty that day, but because of the rafts, he did not see that her son was in trouble.
“Swim lessons were vital to my family that day,” Beatty said.
The sponsorship program is open and the aquatic center is accepting donations from businesses and groups. The sponsorship levels run from Guppy Level – $120 which sponsors two children’s lessons – to the Whale Level of $1,200 or 20 children sponsored.
Each sponsorship level comes with recognition, including Facebook and Instagram acknowledgments for Guppy sponsors, and advertisement on the big screen at the aquatic center for one month for Flounder ($300), two months for Dolphin ($600) and three months Whale sponsors.
To sponsor swimming lessons or for more information, Contact Beatty or co-manager Jacob Fruechting at 479-890-7946 or email email@example.com.