With her brightly colored swim suit and equally sunny disposition, Leslie Paul stands poolside while she talks to the class about their upcoming lesson. Anxious to get started, the excited children quickly fall in line with their designated instructor and split off to different areas of the Windsor Oaks Pool for their third day of the week long swim training program. From the most timid of swimmers wearing fluorescent flotation devices, to confident splashers, each group is provided instruction based upon their level of comfort in the water.
Really Awesome People Swimming (RAPS) was founded by Leslie in 2007 after she found out about the high drowning rates amongst the minority population. The Hampton Roads, Virginia based organization teaches local children and teens who otherwise do not have the means to participate in swim lessons how to swim and to be safe while in, on or around the water. Leslie and her team of instructors passionately teach swimming and safety skills to children free of charge throughout the summer. Their goal is to ensure no child is left out when it comes to learning to swim due to lack of pool facilities, race or socioeconomic status.
Swimways Corp. supports Leslie and her team by donating swim training aids such as SwimWays water toys and pool noodles, and COOP waterproof balls and skateboard floats. In addition we also provide monetary support towards this worthy cause, enabling the RAPS team to ensure even more local children learn to swim.
Quick stats about RAPS:
- 346 children + 6 adults = 352 people served through the RAPS program in 2013
- 15 instructors with a combined total of 303 years of experience, and 1 lifeguard with 5 years of experience
- Total number of people served through the RAPS program since 2007 = 1,315
Did you know?**
- About one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger. Making it the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death behind motor vehicle crashes.
- Children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates. In 2009, among children 1 to 4 years old who died from unintentional injury, more than 30% died from drowning.
- Taking part in formal swimming lessons reduces the risk of drowning among children ages 1 to 4 years.
- African-American children ages 5 to 14 drown at a rate nearly three times higher than their Caucasian peers.
- Nearly 80% of people who die from drowning are male.
For more information about this amazing program, or if you’d like to contribute to the cause, visit: reallyawesomepeopleswimming.org
** Sources: Unintentional Drowning: Get the Facts. CDC.