KEEN + Outdoor Afro: Making Waves So Black Kids Can Swim
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black youth aged 5-19 drown in swimming pools at rates 5.5 times higher than those of white children. This unfortunate truth is directly related to decades of segregation and exclusion from public pools and beaches.
We want to help change that. Learning to swim is a life-saving skill. It’s also a life-enhancing one, because it makes nature’s waterways more accessible. And we want to ensure that everyone feels safe and empowered to get out there.
Outdoor Afro, which uses its ever-growing network to inspire and celebrate Black connections and leadership in nature, is making waves once again by offering “swimmerships” (like scholarships for swim lessons) to Black children as well as adults. We’re proud to support this important initiative with two years of funding through the KEEN Effect.
After year one, the Making Waves Swimmership program awarded 170 swim scholarships to help Black children and their caregivers learn to swim nationwide. While the current COVID-19 pandemic has made it more challenging for Outdoor Afro to reach its goal of 1,000 new swimmers, every single one makes an impact and makes outdoor spaces more accessible to all.
When an individual feels empowered to get outside, they will be more inspired to look for opportunities to connect with the nature around them, including lakes, rivers, oceans, and community pools. We love that this program serves non-swimmers of all ages — it makes it possible for families to explore nearby waterways together.
“I was able to go from swimming underwater only to alternating my arms and floating on my back. It was amazing, and I made such progress. My 10-year-old daughter and husband stayed at my lessons, cheering me on,” says 44-year-old Maine resident Yvette.
Join the Wave
We’ve supported Outdoor Afro since 2012 and continue to look for ways to work together to make the outdoors more accessible. To find Outdoor Afro in your community, visit their website. Or consider supporting their efforts with a donation. Thanks for helping us make a positive impact.