In 2008, the joy of summer in Memphis was shattered when two young children drowned — in the same day. They shared several things in common: both were young, both were African American, and both were vulnerable because they didn't know how to swim. In fact, studies show that 68 percent of minority children in Memphis don't know how to swim, making them three times more likely to drown than white children.
That tragedy became a clarion call to make swim lessons available to kids in need. Thus was born Make A Splash Mid-South, organized by Safe Kids Mid-South and led by Le Bonheur Children's Hospital and a community coalition of 30 organizations.
Now, this nonprofit needs your help.
Make a Splash Mid-South is one of five cities vying for the USA Swimming Foundation and Phillips 66 Make a Splash for Water Safety Video Contest. The winning city, which will be chosen by public vote, will become the sixth stop of the Make a Splash with Cullen Jones Tour presented by Phillips 66. Jones is an African American swimmer and Olympic gold medalist. The winner will also receive a $5,000 grant to provide free learn-to-swim instruction to local children.
Make A Splash needs your vote, so click here and put them in the winner's circle!
JULY UPDATE: You made a difference! Memphis won the contest and will be visited by Olympian Cullen Jones this September.
According to co-founder Susan Helms, director of injury prevention and Safe Kids at Le Bonheur, more than 3,000 children have learned how to swim, thanks to Make A Splash. To receive free or low-cost swim lessons, your child should meet the following qualifications:
- Must be between the ages of 6 to 12
- Must be on the Free School Lunch Program
- Must be able to attend all 10 sessions
- Must have swim suit, goggles, towel (may be provided, if not possible to provide)
- Must have transportation to and from the swim lesson site
- Fill out the online application here and get your kids swimming.