24 August 2010

Grieving Mother Helps Kids Learn to Swim

I found this story from Toledo heart-wrenching, and relevant to our Cincinnati's continued removal of deep water swimming pools:

...What Butts is doing is breaking a generational cycle of blacks who don't know how to swim, one child at a time. But the challenge is daunting.

Seven out of 10 black children have little or no swimming ability, according to a study released last spring by USA Swimming...Other studies have found that blacks are much more likely to drown than whites, especially children from low-income homes, according to several studies.

...Her hope is to end "a tragic story that continues to repeat itself."

The roots of why so many blacks don't swim can be traced to racial inequalities and economics. For decades during the 20th century, many pools and beaches were segregated, and relatively few were built in black communities.

Even today, cities with shrinking budgets are limiting access by closing public pools.

...Butts has one more thing she'd like to do — learn to swim.

The first time she got in, more than two years ago, it didn't go so well.

Once in the pool, she couldn't bring herself to let go of the wall and the horrible memories. She gave up after a few days.

She decided to give it another shot in April and has since crossed the pool using a kick board.

"It's a great accomplishment for me," she said. "The next step is to let go. Letting go and being able to float, that's what I want to do."

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