A situation that has festered for decades is finally being scrutinized by the media in acknowledgment of a broken societal structure that has deprived thousands of New Yorkers of a fundamental life skill.

“Black youth ages 10 to 14 drown 7.6% times the rate of white children and sixty-four percent of Black youth do not know how to swim,” said Cynthia McKnight, Brooklyn Borough Appointee and President of District 13 CEC. “CEC13 is committed to addressing the inequities in swim
safety and drowning in our Black and Brown children.”

A city-wide shortage of lifeguards, in particular those who protect New York City’s miles of beaches and numerous outdoor public pools—where city residents seek essential relief during unbearably hot summer months—has exposed just how unfair access to water is in the nation’s largest city.

In an effort to identify the conditions that deny many New Yorkers learn-to-swim instruction, the health benefits of swimming and entrée to good-paying lifeguarding jobs, a group of concerned citizens —Roberta Weisbrod, one of the city’s leading maritime experts, Rabbi Yaakov Raskin, Chabad of Brooklyn Heights, Eugene Spatz, former Director, LIU, Sports Sciences Division and Perry Williams, Community Activist, Family & Youth Advocate—have joined forces with aquatics advocates Shawn Slevin of Swim Strong Foundation, Peter Kohnstamm of Swim for Life, Carl Quigley, long-time St. Francis Brooklyn aquatics director and Michael Randazzo of Inclusive Community Wellness.

“For decades NYC has been an aquatic desert,” said Slevin. “Recently, we are seeing an awakening of public and private enterprise, with the media and the public acknowledging and demanding safe, equitable access to water, swim lessons and water safety knowledge… If ever there was a time to create an aquatic culture in our maritime city,” Slevin emphasized, “it is now. Let’s GO!”

“Swimming instructions and training promotes lifetime skills for all levels,“ said Williams. “Learning to swim provides both pathways to wellness and limitless opportunities.”

A result of their collaboration is a symposium to be held Friday, August 18 at Brooklyn Law School. This event will engage top elected officials, key decision-makers at relevant city agencies and community leaders in what is intended to be a frank and productive discussion
about how to make more swimming opportunities and pool time readily available to all New Yorkers.

“We hope our aquatics symposium will bring attention to this critical issue,” said McKnight.

Date: Friday, August 18
Location: Brooklyn Law School, 250 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn, New York
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.; coffee / tea / light refreshments at 9:00 a.m.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Michael Randazzo – 917-605-5624 / community.wellness.nyc@gmail.com


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