Thursday July 22, 2021
By Ashley Hanley
The Spring Lake Park Swim Facility/ Pat Christman - Mankato Free Press
The City of North Mankato is providing swim lessons for Somali children at no cost to families at Spring Lake Park Swim Facility this summer. The Mankato Clinic Foundation is helping to fund the lessons with a $2,500 grant and a commitment for further funding if needed.
“Following the tragic drowning of a Somali child in our community, providing swim lessons to Somali families right now is so important to alleviate fear and promote healing. My heart was full to witness this vital learning experience and the community support for our children and families. These lessons are an important step in healing our community. They are more than swim lessons,” said Mohamed Ibrahim, Somali community leader and parent.
Spring Lake Park Swim Facility is holding two sessions of swim lessons, with the capacity to teach 50 children age 6-11, in July and August. Each session meets for two weeks, 3-4 evenings per week, for 7 lessons total. Lessons are taught by Red Cross certified swim instructors and lifeguards.
“We were devastated by this tragedy and are doing everything in our power to ensure water safety and prevent drowning. And we know that swim lessons can help keep children safe in the water,” said Katie Heintz, Taylor Library director. “We are inspired to see so many families participating and honored to teach their children to swim. We are grateful to the Mankato Clinic Foundation for initiating this effort and forging this partnership.”
Through this effort, a gap in swim lessons was identified for many children in our community as there are significant barriers to swim lessons such as finances, transportation and time. Community-wide collaborations are developing to bridge the gap and ensure all children have the opportunity to learn to swim.
“Swimming is a lifelong skill and every child should have the opportunity to learn to swim. The Mankato Clinic Foundation is proud to be part of this initiative,” said Dr. Katie Smentek, Mankato Clinic Foundation Board member. “These lessons are only the beginning of our commitment to making sure all children may learn to swim.”