Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Donation Will Expand Free Swim Program

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Donation Will Expand Free Swim Program

Article excerpt

Byline: Sandy Strickland

It should be a lot safer to go into the water this summer. And it's not because Chief Martin Brody triumphed over Jaws.

Waterproof Jacksonville, a campaign to prevent accidental drowning by teaching children to swim, is expanding to offer free lessons to more than 1,800 kids who might not otherwise be able to afford them. The expansion was made possible by attorney Wayne Hogan, who donated $16,500. Safe Kids Northeast Florida also provided $7,000 to allow JaxParks to reach more children, said Pam Roman, JaxParks spokeswoman.

Lessons will be offered at Woodland Acres Elementary School's summer school and 10 Duval County schools summer camps. They also will be provided through the MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation and JaxParks summer camps.

If a child is not attending a summer camp but meets financial assistance criteria or is the child of an active-duty military member, they can register through JaxParks on a first-come, first-served basis, Roman said.

The campaign is a partnership between Safe Kids Northeast Florida, the city, Duval County schools and area swim organizations, including the YMCA, Flying Fish Swim Team, Mandarin Aquatic Club, Planet Swim and Swim Safari.

"Everyone in our community should be able to experience and enjoy the simple pleasure of diving into a refreshing pool of water, but there are so many kids in our community who can't because they don't know how to swim," Mayor Alvin Brown said in a news release. "We have to change that, and through our partners and donors who care about our children and saving lives, we can really have a positive impact on families and prevent needless tragedies."

Accidental drowning is the leading cause of death in Florida for children under age 5 and the second leading cause of accidental death for children ages 1-14, the release said. For more information, go to jaxparks.com.

Here's more good news:

- About 25 Sulzbacher Center residents now have refurbished bicycles to pedal their way to work, school or employment interviews. JaxREcycle volunteers donated the bikes to those successfully completing Money Smart and/or Active Job Seekers workshops, a news release said. …

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