Life Lessons in the Pool 

'Make a Splash' grants will assist as many as 1,000 Canyon County kids with swim lessons

“Make a Splash” grants will assist as many 1,000 Canyon County kids with swim lessons.

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“Make a Splash” grants will assist as many 1,000 Canyon County kids with swim lessons.

The moment public schools let kids loose for the summer, public swimming pools can't open soon enough. Nampa outdoor pools will open first, on Friday, May 27, followed by those in Caldwell on Saturday, May 28. Boise public pools open on Thursday, June 2, followed by Meridian pools on Monday, June 6.

However, too many children don't know how to swim and can't afford lessons. That's why the Colorado-based USA Swimming Foundation tosses a life raft to local communities with its "Make a Splash" grant program. Over the past seven years the program has, through its local partnerships, offered lessons at no or low cost to more than 4 million American kids.

"This year, we'll reach more than 800,000 kids across the nation," said Shweta Shreyarthi, Make a Splash Program coordinator. "Our goal is to help 1 million kids each year."

With that in mind, Make a Splash is sending much-needed funds to the Treasure Valley YMCA to offer lessons to Canyon County kids.

"They've identified a lot of children in the Caldwell, Vallivue and Homedale school districts that can really use this assistance," said Shreyarthi. "Our grants reach out to kids regardless of financial status or race or any barrier that keeps them from getting a swim lesson. The YMCA's application said that these kids wouldn't normally receive any kind of swim safety instruction."

The program is expected to assist as many as 1,000 Canyon County children.

"Swim lessons reduce the risk of drowning by 88 percent," said Debbie Hesse, executive director of the USA Swimming Foundation. "We're saving the lives of today's kids and many more in future generations."

The grants will spark interest as early as this summer and continue into the school year, according to USA Swimming.

"Swimming's a blast, but this is a life lesson," said Shreyarthi.

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