By Akaose Ibeaji
Scoutmaster Troop 400
For over 30 years, Troop 400 has worked to provide services via scouting to the youth of the low-income and public housing communities of Huntsville. Swimming is a scouting activity that our troop has always felt the most critical. According to the CDC, black children are 3-4 times to die by drowning compared to white children. Furthermore, in our troop of 20 scouts, only 5 of them were qualified swimmers.
In the past, we have worked with various volunteer coaches and facilities including the City of Huntsville. However, COVID-19 caused a hard stop on our progress and for a year, we sought a partner to work within our goal of teaching our scouts how to swim.
I admit I was a little hesitant in approaching the Y. I was always under the impression it was out of our league and it catered to the more privileged communities due to their locations in the suburban parts of the area. What I found was quite the opposite. Not only did I meet the friendly staff of Bev and Rachel who won our hearts with their deep understanding of the challenges and disparities our children face, but they also helped us facilitate the grant that eventually allowed our scouts to learn how to swim FOR FREE!
This year, none of our scouts is a non-swimmer. While we still have a way to go getting all our scouts to swim, for the first time, we encountered none of our scouts who have an aversion for it. All of them actually enjoy and during our summer camp, you couldn’t keep them away from the water resulting in a couple of them earning their Swimming Merit Badge!
We are so grateful to Bev, Rachel, and the entire swim staff at the SE YMCA. We are also grateful to the national body for providing us the grant to teach our scouts how to swim. We look forward to continuing working with the Y with our goal to make sure all our youth (both boys and girls) are proficient swimmers!