My parents have a photo of me at 6 months old splashing in the water at our local swim club. To them, water safety was an important and necessary skill for all three children - Whitney, Michael and myself - to learn. We went through swimming lessons, learning how to blow bubbles (which teaches children how to effectively breathe in the pool) and the elementary backstroke. I joined the swim team when I was 7 years old, the same summer Michael was born. I loved the water. During the summer months of my teen years, I spent every day, all day at the pool. Morning practice at 7am, teaching swimming lessons at 10:30 and then a second practice at 1pm. We weren't kidding when we say "we grew up at the pool."
The skill that was so important to our parents, clearly became something in which our family excelled and a sport we've been involved with for over 30 years. My dad woke up at 4am and drove me to morning practice when I was in the 6th grade, while my mom stayed home with Whitney and Michael, who weren't yet swimming before school. My dad worked two jobs, in order to pay for the expensive swimming dues required for three children - Whitney, Michael and I - to swim at North Baltimore Aquatic Club, while my mom drove afternoon carpool and had dinner ready when we got home from workout. We were fortunate to have two parents, who worked hard, to make sure we were water safe.
But there are many, many children who don't have the resources available to ensure their safety. Pools are expensive to maintain and finding instructors who are qualified can be a challenge. Many children live in areas where a pool, let alone swimming lessons, aren't even an option. Did you know that drowning is the second leading cause of death for children under 14? Half a million people die every year from drowning and more than half of those are children.
"I was first introduced to the sport of swimming through water safety. I learned to be comfortable and confident in the water and my passion for swimming grew with each visit to the pool. Now, with the support of the Boys & Girls Clubs, we are able to offer children a program that will help them become safer in the water, and live a healthier and more active life. " - Michael Phelps
When Michael won his record breaking 8 gold medals in 2008, he took $1 million of his prize money and used it to launch the Michael Phelps Foundation, an organization dedicated to growing the sport of swimming and promoting healthy and active lives, especially for children. The Foundation has provided learn to swim, healthy eating and goal setting curriculum to over 10,000 children around the world by partnering with the Special Olympics and Boys & Girls Club of America. And we need your help.
May is Water Safety Awareness Month and the Foundation has kicked off a campaign to raise money and help children overcome their fear of the water through its #imsafe program. Your generous donation will bring our water-safety program to four (4) new Boys & Girls Clubs. "A rising tide raises all ships" -- With your contribution of just $1, you are giving a child a chance to not only live, but thrive. Will you consider helping the cause?
Please go to the IndieGoGo website where you can learn more information and make your tax deductible donation.
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you. Your help give us the opportunity to help others.