SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA)- Seven months after an initiative to provide free swimming lessons in response to the Red River Tragedy, the money is in place to fund those lessons. The decision on who will give the free lessons to kids in Shreveport is only weeks away.
"We are very excited to report that we've raised just over $35,000," says Liz Laborde with the Community Foundation.
The Stewart-Warner Project Swim Fund is just about ready to get the lessons on the road.
"We believe this will help 1,000 children learn to swim this summer," Laborde says.
The Community Foundation fulfilled its promise to match the community's donations to the fund up to $15,000.
"It's a life skill, basic safety that all of our children need to have that skill. We're just thrilled to be able to provide the opportunity for children who otherwise might not be able to afford swim lessons," Laborde adds.
The push for lessons came after six teens drowned in the Red River last August. Rev. Emmett Welch mentored those teens.
"This ordeal, even though it was a tragedy, it was huge in reference to other kids having the opportunity to learn how to swim," he says.
He tells KSLA News 12 that parents can sometimes be a reason kids don't learn how to swim.
"I'm finding more and more parents that, because they don't know how to swim, they're fearful of their children going to the water."
He tells us he hopes the parents learn alongside their children this summer.
"Swimming is a wonderful thing if you know how to do it, so we're trying to dismiss all of the fear and the apprehension that one might have simply because they don't understand the concept of swimming."
Three groups applied for the grant from the Community Foundation to give the lessons. It will announce the winner some time in April. Kids will be able to sign up with whoever wins after that.
Below is a link to the Stewart-Warner Project Swim Fund, if you'd like to donate so more children can benefit from free lessons.