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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

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YMCA reinstating swim lessons for underprivileged youth

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Franklin County YMCA is reinstating a swim program for children who can least afford it.

To fund this program, the YMCA will seek donations and grants to offset its costs of life guards, swim instructors and some operations, according to Kevin McAlexander with member services at the YMCA.

Groups of eight children can be sponsored for basic 24

lesson packages for $2,305. The first eight students to be enrolled in this program will be selected based on need and come from the Southern Virginia Child Advocacy Center in Rocky Mount.

In 1998, the Franklin County Family YMCA founded a student swim program in partnership with Franklin County public schools to teach an entire grade level to swim.

The program was very successful and highly regarded by students, parents, teachers and residents of Franklin County, said McAlexander. The program was eliminated in 2009 in connection with a multi-million dollar school budget deficit during the financial meltdown of 2008.

Without this program, many youth now face an increased risk of drowning because they have not learned this important life skill, McAlexander said.

"Swimming is not only an essential life skill, but it fights childhood obesity and it can be done for a lifetime," said Jim Currie, CEO of the YMCA. "That's why we are starting our Bring Them Back initiative."

The YMCA aquatics facility in Rocky Mount has over 8,000 square feet and two pools, including a 25-yard lap pool and a heated program pool for water exercise and swim lessons.

"This might be the only opportunity for some children to learn to swim," Currie said. "As parents, we owe it to those less fortunate to help all children learn to swim. It is a small cost to save a child from drowning."

Donations to this program can be made on the Franklin County Family YMCA's website under its "donate now" button or call the YMCA at 540-489-9622.

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