By MARIAM LOBJANIDZE
Indy Parks and Recreation offers summer swim lessons for pre-K-aged children, with scholarships for those living on lower incomes. Alex Cortwright, chief communications officer at Indy Parks and Recreation, said, after recovering from COVID-19 and staffing issues, the city agency expects approximately 300 children to take advantage of the swimming lessons this summer. “We want to make sure that the cost isn’t a barrier,” Cortwright said.
Cortwright said he is excited for summer 2023. He said that for the past two years, because of the pandemic’s impact on staffing, Indy Parks could only offer private lessons. Cortwright emphasized the importance of learning how to swim and added that it’s an important skill for children to have. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more children ages 1-4 die from drowning than any other cause of death. Furthermore, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for children ages 5-14.
Cortwright said Indy Parks markets the scholarship opportunity to lower income Marion County residents. He said the cost of the lessons is generally less than $10 per person, and he hopes the scholarships will make them more accessible. He also says the agency hopes to serve more communities of color.
According to CDC, “drowning death rates for American Indian or Alaska Native people ages 29 and younger are 2 times higher than the rates for White people, with the highest disparities among those ages 25-29 (rates 3.5 times higher). Drowning death rates for Black people are 1.5 times higher than the rates for White people. Disparities are highest among Black children ages 5-9 (rates 2.6 times higher) and ages 10-14 (rates 3.6 times higher).”
“In terms of where the lessons are offered, we are very intentional about making sure that we’re filling those positions [swim class openings] and have those opportunities available that are really accessible for communities of color,” Cortwright said.
Lessons started in June and run through the end of July. There are three sessions people can still sign up for. Lessons are offered July 5-August 1, with July 5 being the next earliest time one can sign up for. Cortwright said Indy Parks is not planning to expand its reach to other central Indiana counties at this time and is mostly focused on Marion County. “It’s not impossible, but I think our goal really is to serve Marion County residents and to make sure they have those opportunities as much as possible because that’s the community we serve,” he said.
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