Phoenix Kroc Center awarded $20,000 grant for swim program

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Fiesta Bowl Charities awarded The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Phoenix a $20,000 grant to expand its “Safe in the Water” swimming program.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, drowning is the third most common cause of unintentional injury-related deaths, and the group at the highest risk of drowning is children ages 1–4. If a child does not learn to swim by the third grade, experts say they might never learn.

“The Kroc Center is located in an area where 38 percent of households live below the poverty line, so the ability to pay for swim lessons can be a deterrent, and that is why we believe providing this complimentary service to families is vital,” said Kroc Center Corps Officer Major Gwyn Jones. “Our heartfelt thanks to Fiesta Bowl Charities for the opportunity to expand our efforts.”

With this funding, the Kroc Center will assess 2,000 Kindergarten through second-grade students for swimming proficiency and provide 720 kids with a series of eight “Safe in the Water” free swim lessons.

The Kroc Center will assess any student but will focus on current partnerships with the Roosevelt School District and surrounding charter schools to get their children assessed as part of a field trip to the Kroc Center.

“Swim lessons save lives. On behalf of Fiesta Bowl Charities, the Board of Directors and entire organization, we are proud to help The Salvation Army Kroc Center provide swim lessons to children who may not otherwise have the opportunity to learn this lifesaving skill,” said Fiesta Bowl Executive Director Mike Nealy. “Teaching today’s children to swim opens new opportunities for them and also impacts generations to come by instilling the importance of learning to swim.”

Star Guard certified lifeguards and trained swim instructors at the Kroc Center will assess a child’s comfort in the water, and parental confidence will also be measured via surveys. The goal is to provide parents with a realistic assessment of a child’s safety and abilities in the water.

The pilot program, launched in April, resulted in children being deemed water safe after taking the swim lessons. Parents who took a post-lesson survey felt their children would now be able to survive in the water if they fell in while unattended.

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