Millions of school-aged kids go home to an empty house. This number has increased over the last few years. Children who stay home alone eat poorly, play video games and watch television. Many stay inside for safety reasons, leaving them with little physical activity. Thanks to the Afterschool Alliance, knowledge of the afterschool field has grown substantially in the past 15 years. The research confirms that quality afterschool programs increase participants’ engagement in school, reduce their participation in at-risk behavior, and raise their academic performance.
SwimRVA has teamed up with NextUp to provide students with a cost free learn-to-swim program at the City of Richmond Bellemeade Community Center. NextUp is a non-profit whose mission is to provide middle school students with year-round access to a wide variety of hands-on learning. They partner with over 20 community organizations to ensure students are productive, engaged and having fun in organized out of school activities. SwimRVA is a non-profit whose mission is to elevate swimming in the Richmond region making water safety and aquatic fitness more accessible to all.
“NextUp and SwimRVA is an example of how organizations work collaboratively to move the needle in our community. The collaborative has allowed us to grow the learn-to-swim program in Richmond to the middle school level. This program will lead to continued participation in aquatics for life, opening doors as students grow an aquatic competency for recreation, sport and future careers.” says SwimRVA Executive Director, Adam Kennedy.
This past fall, 60 students from Lucille Brown and Boushall Middle Schools participated
twice a week to learn skills to be water safe. Skills were applied through the sport of water polo to reinforce swimming ability. Aquatics will become a tool to stay active, healthy and fit for the rest of their lives. Dr. Deb Kelo, the Director of Programs for SwimRVA reports,
“We are providing an opportunity for these kids to learn how to swim in a pool they have access to all year within their community. The opportunity to play water polo was an exposure to a non-traditional sport and made the learning fun. This program is not only teaching students to be water safe, but also values of teamwork and leadership gained through the sport of water polo. We are thrilled to partner with NextUp. It is a perfect match with the same end goal of providing quality Out of School Time programs in a safe environment while developing new interests, passions and self-confidence.”
Together, NextUp and SwimRVA are creating opportunity, access and healthy children. “We try to instill our program principles of truthfulness, courage, persistence, success and dignity into every program we offer. This is more than lessons. We are building self-confident young adults that will excel in and out of the classroom” says Dr. Kelo.
As you can see in the video, they are having a blast!