Schools play a significant role in how children grow and develop by teaching them skills above and beyond the academic. For the public schools in Juneau, Alaska, they are taking a step further by incorporating swimming and water safety lessons for their fourth-graders. The Learn to Swim Program is a partnership between the Juneau School District and the Glacier Swim Club.
This Learn to Swim Program was actually the result of the State of Alaska Department of Education paying a certain percentage of the capital costs of the Dimond Park Aquatic Center. According to an email from Max Mertz, the Department of Education and Early Development contributed $5.2 million, a reimbursement over the life of the $19.8 million bonds, assuming future legislative appropriations. “In return for that money, CBJ, via the Juneau School District, is obligated to provide swimming education to students. It is not a phys-ed course but Safety,” explained Tom Rutecki.
As of now, the program is specifically targeted towards fourth-grade students who participate in the program. However, many are looking forward to the program being expanded to cater towards other grades as well. Most of them citing the importance of Juneau students being prepared for the dangers of Alaska’s frigid waters. The lessons serve fourth-graders from all public schools from Douglas to Auke Bay. They are being conducted at both the Augustus Brown pool downtown as well as the Dimond Park Aquatic Center in the valley.
The downtown pool is actually rumoured to be coming to a close. This has been a pretty major concern for Tom and instructor Patricia Morgan along with most members of the Downtown Juneau Neighborhood Association. “To my knowledge there was no Learn to Swim program for at least 35 years before DPAC was built. So there is no road map on how to make the program work for all Juneau elementary schools with only one pool in the valley. If the town pool is closed, the Learn to Swim Program will be very negatively impacted. Because Busing is a real complicated deal with the schools, it will be very hard to get kids from downtown and Douglas to DPAC and back without missing a lot of other class time,” stated a worried Tom. For the full story, you can read it here.
In Singapore, swimming is also mandatory for those in primary schools. However, you do not actually need to wait till then to get your child started. In fact, Happy Fish Swim School offers infant aquatics swimming lessons to get your baby started from as young as 8 months old!