The second installment of Swim to Work, a collaborative initiative through The YMCA of Central Virginia, Iron Lives, and Lynchburg City Schools, celebrated the completion of its spring session on Thursday, September 14th. The festivities took place at the Downtown YMCA Teen Center. Swim to Work is dedicated to empowering under-resourced high school students through mentorship, education, and the training required to attain certification as a lifeguard.
Ten students from the Empowerment Academy, Fort Hill, Heritage High School and EC Glass came together multiple times a week and participated in the no cost program. Funding for the program is provided by local private donors, and Lynchburg Change for Change.
During the six weeks each student received:
- Swim Lessons
- AED Certification
- CPR and First Aid Training
- Emergency Oxygen Administration
- Mentoring and Special Guest Led Workshops
Despite varying levels of prior swimming experience, nine of the then participating students successfully completed the program on September 14th, with two of the students receiving their lifeguard certification during the celebration. In addition to receiving their certification, the boys represented Youth Voices during the Boys and Young Men of Color National Convening in Washington D.C." During the trip they learned about civic participation and the democratic process. The young leaders shared their experiences with YMCA staff and volunteers from across the country, as well as local legislators.
The program pushed each participant to grow and be successful in their efforts, helping them master skills they never thougt possible. Jesse Tom's mother Sarah Garrison is grateful for the opportunity her son had, "Swim to Work is a blessing for my son. It helped him to gain confidence not only as a swimmer, but in life itself. I am thankful for each staff member that took the time to mentor and push each child that was in the program. Life lessons were definitely learned by all of them. There is no greater feeling than watching my child grow, learn, and succeed. Thank you all."
Dr. Crystal Edwads, Superintendent of Lynchburg City Schools shared her enthusiasm and support of the program, and the students involved, "I am extremely proud of the partnership and collaboration LCS has with the YMCA. The students who successfully completed the Swim to Work program demonstrated what happens when you set challenging goals and receive support and encouragement from school, family, and community members."
"Swim to Work is one of the most meaningful programs I have ever been a part of, shared Allison Jordan, Executive Director of Iron Lives, "These young people improved swimming skills, but more importantly learned valuable life lessons and made incredible community connections. IRON Lives is proud to collaborate with the YMCA and LCS to change lives."
For more information about Swim to Work, a YMCA of Central Virginia outreach initiative, visit the YMCA of Central Virginia Teen Center's web page here