Post by Connie Harvey, Director of the Red Cross Centennial Initiative
I’m so proud of the Red Cross for honoring the organization’s 100-year history of teaching lifesaving and water safety in such a significant way with its Centennial Campaign. Now in its second year – still an early stage of the five-year quest to reduce drowning rates by 50 percent in 50 at-risk communities – I know that we are opening a world of opportunity for so many people as they learn to enjoy the water safely, and I am confident that the campaign is saving lives.
How It’s Working
Just 14 months since the launch of the campaign, the Red Cross is proud to announce 34 Centennial partnerships in more than 147 facilities and across 12 states. That translates to more than 12,750 additional kids and adults who are learning swimming and lifesaving water safety skills. I’m not sure who is more excited in the video below – the kids learning to swim or their adult instructors!
What makes the work of our Centennial partners so powerful is their willingness to go above and beyond. Overwhelmingly, our partners – state, city and county parks and recreation departments, YMCAs, Jewish Community Centers and community pools – were already running robust learn-to-swim programs. We came to them and asked if they would be willing to do more – and these partners said yes without hesitation.
As we get started with each partner, we brainstorm about how we can help overcome barriers that keep people from learning about water safety, an important life skill. We ask them to answer the question, “What would you do if you had no obstacles?” Many aquatics directors already have ideas in mind. And while every community is different and thus the approaches to the solutions are different, the ultimate goal is the same everywhere. We all want to make swimming lessons available in a safe environment, taught by qualified Water Safety Instructors, where participants are encouraged to return until they reach water competency.
Smiles for Swimming Successes
From the huge, proud smile on the face of a child who just swam unsupported for the first time in her life…
Ta’Mya , 8 years old, beams with pride as she swims on her own for the first time.
To the tremendous sense of accomplishment of Elvin, age 11, who is now able to swim in the deep end with his friends…
To the Water Safety Instructor who is so proud to help children overcome their fears and sees the potential for their future…
We’re excited to see what smiles come around next summer!
Want to get involved? Learn more about water safety instruction and swimming classes, as well as the Centennial Campaign on redcross.org.