Hennepin County offers $5 swimming lessons for low-income youth


More low-income Minneapolis kids can learn to swim, thanks to a new funding partnership between the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB).

Through the launch of the Water and Ice Safety Education (WISE) program, qualifying youth in Minneapolis can enjoy a series of eight lessons for just $5, versus the typical $50 cost. Classes are held throughout the summer at various MPRB lakes and pools and year-’round at the Phillips Aquatics Center. Scholarships are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

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In addition to standard swimming lessons, WISE scholarships are available to individuals interested in women’s-only swimming lessons and lifeguard training classes.

MPRB Superintendent Al Bangoura and Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson announced the new initiative recently at Webber Natural Swimming Pool.

“Learning to swim shouldn’t be limited to only families who can afford it, it’s a life skill that should be offered to all Minnesotans,” said Hutchinson.

Bangoura added, “Safety through recreation education is one of the most important things we can do to help protect children of color. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Black children are five times more likely to die in a drowning accident than White children.

“That’s unacceptable and that’s why this partnership with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office is so important. It will expand our programs that provide hundreds of low-cost swimming lessons for children and adults across Minneapolis.”

According to the CDC, about 10 people die every day from unintentional drowning nationwide. Of these, two are children aged 14 or younger. Fortunately, the risk of drowning drops 88 percent for young people if they participate in formal swimming lessons.

For more info on applying for a WISE swimming scholarship, email aquatics@minneapolisparks.org or call 612-230-6495.

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