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November 2011
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CityLink Seattle

Be a superhero: reduce drowning by helping Seattle kids learn to swim

Seattle Parks and Recreation is accepting donations large and small for the Learn to Swim Scholarship Fund.

Between 2005 and 2009, 129 King County residents drowned; of them, 18 were children 17 and younger. Seattle Parks and Recreation, Children’s Hospital, and Public Health – Seattle & King County believe swimming lessons are a large part of the solution.

“Providing swimming lessons for children is our highest priority,” said Kathy Whitman, Parks Aquatics Manager. “We have reduced our fees by 50% for those who qualify. We want to provide affordable swim lessons for all children, especially those who meet low income guidelines, but even 50% of the fee is still too expensive for many families.”

This year, Parks has been especially challenged by the depletion in the scholarship budget caused by City budget reductions. Through September 2011, Parks has provided half price swim lessons to 1,900 children, a value of more than $60,000. Of these kids, 978 qualified under federal guidelines for a higher level of scholarship, which used all of the $19,000 available in special funding.

Special thanks go to Seattle Children’s Hospital for partnering with us to kick off the program and contributing supplemental funds to the Learn to Swim Scholarship Fund. With Children’s help, we are one step closer to making sure all children in Seattle have the opportunity to learn to swim regardless of their ability to pay.

It’s easy to contribute – just visit your local swimming pool to use cash, check, or VISA/MasterCard/American Express, or donate online at the Associated Recreation Council’s website at http://www.arcseattle.org/donate.cfm. As a guideline, a donation of $260 would provide scholarship funding for 10 children.

Donors can set up recurring donations online and can designate donations on behalf of or in honor of someone. Donations are 100% tax-deductible, and Parks staff are happy to provide information to your Employer Matching Gift program. For more information, to donate, or to register for swim lessons please contact your local pool: http://www.seattle.gov/parks/pools.asp