Making a Splash at LEARN Charter Schools

By Sonia Jones

According to the Center for Disease Control, roughly ten deaths per day are caused by drowning. African American children, ages 5-19, drown in swimming pools at rates 5.5 times higher than those of white children. This disparity is greatest among children between the ages of 11-12 years old, where African American children drown in swimming pools at rates that are ten times higher than those of white children.The statistics are stark and alarming. Because of these trends, it has been extremely important to LEARN’s CEO, Greg White, that his students, many of whom are African American, have access to a safe pool and high quality swimming instruction.

LEARN has been searching for a perfect aquatic partnership and pool location for several years. They recently found one in the newly opened, state-of-the-art, olympic sized McCormick YMCA pool – just ten minutes from their Herro Family Campus. LEARN has partnered with the YMCA before for childcare and after school activities. So, when this new pool was finished, LEARN reached out and built relationships in the swimming department as well.

The program officially kicked off in January 2019. In this partnership, LEARN reserves the pool just for LEARN students and hired certified instructors and lifeguards to teach scholars swimming skills and to keep them safe. The program runs one day per week for eight weeks. The swimming lessons are completely free and scholars also receive transportation to and from the YMCA, as well as goggles and snacks after a tough swim. Scholars just need to show up with their swim gear and a willingness to jump in!

This swimming program serves scholars across three schools – LEARN Romano Butler, LEARN Excel, and LEARN Campbell.

There are 75 total students served from the three schools, 25 from each school. The schools chose which grades to offer the program to, so swimmers range from 2nd until 6th grade. Families are very excited about this new adventure, especially when they think about when the winter finally ends in Chicago and the pools and beaches open back up!