2009-11-20 / Community

RWA Begins Swim Instruction Program

Girls warming up and stretching for class Girls warming up and stretching for class Talk about jumping in feet first. That is what Rockaway Waterfront Alliance did recently in an effort to raise awareness of the dire need for swim instruction in the Rockaways. This year we faced more drownings in NYC than any other city in the US. It is a tragedy that the wealthiest country (and city) in the world would face this and being a beach community one would think that Rockaway would be teeming with swim programs, like those found in other coastal cities in America. But swimming has become a class issue and unfortunately few underserved and communities of color are getting access to these services. RWA has made swim and water safety a major priority this year due to the circumstances surrounding our own beaches last summer and is going to challenge the city to make sure NYC beaches become the safest beaches in America. "We can't afford to have more drownings and RWA is going to work on building swim instruction as well as water safety into our main goals this coming year," said Jeanne DuPont, director of Rockaway Waterfront Alliance.

Getting in the swim of things… Getting in the swim of things… RWA classes started at Far Rockaway High School on November 7 and had more than 40 kids registered and in the pool on the first day. The Swim Strong Foundation is leading the classes for both beginner and intermediate swimmers and hopes to continue through the spring season. The program is being funded by discretionary funds given by Councilman James Sanders and will lead into a Water Safety Awareness Tour that RWA will be doing in the Rockaway public schools this spring to engage the schools and students in an outreach effort to educate as many local residents and youngsters as possible about water safety on our beaches.

In the spring, RWA will be kicking off a campaign that includes 21st century technology to reach youngsters and the public about water safety information through podcasts, videos and even video games. "Of the information that is out there now, it is not reaching the population of people who really need to know the facts. Kids. And yet there is so much technology that is available to kids through computers, texting and cell phones." RWA will be kicking off this campaign in early April and plans to engage the entire Rockaway community in the campaign.

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