More swim lessons funded

Published 10:16 pm Tuesday, April 26, 2016

William E. Goodman Sr. has stepped up to meet Suffolk businessman William Blair’s challenge to fund swimming lessons for needy children at Cypress Park Pool.

William E. Goodman Sr. donated $500 to help fund swimming scholarships at the Cypress Park swimming pool.

William E. Goodman Sr. donated $500 to help fund swimming scholarships at the Cypress Park swimming pool.

On Tuesday, the owner of Goodman’s Septic Tank Service donated $500 to use for swimming scholarships this summer.

Earlier this month, Blair, owner of Blair Brothers Inc., donated $1,000 and challenged other local businesses to contribute. Blair started the initiative last year with a $500 donation, after a 6-year-old boy drowned in a retention pond near his North Suffolk home.

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Goodman said he felt compelled to donate after reading about Blair’s generosity and challenge.

“I was touched and wanted to help,” said Goodman, who grew up on Arizona Avenue and vividly remembers a child drowning when the pool was under construction.

“There were a lot of kids around there that didn’t know how to swim,” Goodman said. “I was one of them.”

To date, the city has also received one other donation for swimming lessons at Cypress Park, said Lakita Watson, the city’s director of parks and recreation.

Suffolk will continue to accept donations for swimming lessons through the Office on Youth, at 134 S. Sixth St., Suffolk, VA 23434. Checks should be payable to City Treasurer Ron Williams, with a designation for swimming lessons.

Anyone interested in registering children for swimming lessons should apply in person at the Office on Youth. There will be an application process for the available vouchers.

The city contracts with a local aquatics company to provide the swimming lessons, Watson said. The vouchers will be used to fund lessons in the existing time slots, with more classes to be added if the need arises.

National statistics reiterate the need for teaching children — particularly minorities — to swim.

A black child is three times more likely to drown than a white child, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

A USA Swimming Foundation study in 2010 found that 70 percent of black children and 60 percent of Hispanic children do not know how to swim, according to the foundation’s website.