There is something that kills more minority kids than lack of body cameras for police, that the City of Newburgh needs to pay attention to. It is so serious that the Centers for Disease Control has declared it an EPIDEMIC. You know, like Tuberculosis. Volunteers try year after year to GIVE a cure to the City of Newburgh. And the City of Newburgh ends up shutting down this cure every year for lack of funding. I’m talking about Drowning. 70% of African American children cannot swim. 60% of Latino children cannot swim. 40% of Caucasian children cannot swim. 10 people drown each day in the U.S. Drowning is the 2nd leading cause of childhood unintentional death for kids under the age of 14. By Age 12, minority kids are up to 80% more likely to drown than their non-minority counterparts.
Coach Kennedy and Mrs. Lo, and the volunteers of America Rows and Swims Newburgh (and our predecessor, the Student Ambassador program of the Newburgh Rowing Club), have given FREE Water Confidence and Learn to Swim Clinics at the City of Newburgh Pool every Summer for the past 3 years. (Or have tried to, last Summer, the new Recreation Director gave Coach Kennedy such ##$$ for trying to return the program to the Pool. Fortunately, Coach and I are very persistent and the Mayor and key City Council people rallied behind it to make it happen again). Every year, we teach over 100 City of Newburgh kids to swim, for free, with a budget of $0. It’s all volunteer work. And we bring our own battered supplies (flippers, kickboards, PFD’s) and helpers. And what happens? The program gets shut down every year at the beginning of AUGUST because the City of Newburgh runs out of money to keep the City Pool open.
America Rows and Swims Newburgh just became a local partner in the USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash Initiative, which is a huge accomplishment and puts us into a national network, run by the national governing body of the sport of swimming in America. Make a Splash is committed to making sure that every child in America knows how to swim and formal swim lessons are the key. Hey, Newburgh, want to Save Lives? Find the funding to keep the City of Newburgh Pool open past August 1st. We will continue to teach kids to swim for free but we can’t do it without a pool. Currently we teach weekly free lessons at the Union Avenue Y, where we pay reduced rent but we do pay rent. It would be great to use a pool actually located in the City of Newburgh, and we have a formal request out to use the NFA Pool and the City of Newburgh Pool. The Newburgh School District should also provide free swim lessons. This is something Coaches Stepakoff and Kennedy have been advocating for, for years. Coach Kennedy used to run an aquatic program at the NFA Pool where they taught free swim lessons to everyone, but that program was shut down. Both Coach Kennedy and Coach Stepakoff, former swim coaches, and certified WSI’s (Water Safety Instructors) have volunteered to teach free swimming lessons at the NFA Pool. In the meantime, we will keep fundraising and I will keep writing grants to do by volunteer work what the City should really be doing on its own. If the City isn’t going to provide free swim lessons, the least they can do is make finding funding to keep the City Pool open a priority so volunteers from America Rows and Swims Newburgh can come in and teach swimming, to try and prevent needless deaths.