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Club project teaches children to swim

The Suffolk Chapter of The Links Inc. graduated more than 30 students from its Swim Like a Fish program at the Suffolk YMCA on Friday evening.

The Links Inc. chapter received $5,000 from the Obici Healthcare Foundation to put on the program, and they recently received another $2,000 from the Suffolk Foundation to continue the program.

“Our national theme is to transform our community and fulfill our purpose,” said Duanne Hoffler-Foster, chapter president. “There are so many deaths associated with drowning in the area, and we want to have better, more confident children swimming in Suffolk.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of 10 people in the United States die every day by unintentional drowning, and the chances of drowning are significantly higher for black children.

Educating children about water safety and how to swim is important for The Links and the staff at the YMCA.

“The children are our future, and if they are not taken care of, then what do we have,” Hoffler-Foster said.

While safety is important to The Links, opening the children up to new opportunities was a large part of the swimming project.

“Now they can join swimming teams and get scholarships to college for this,” Hoffler-Foster said. “We are really trying to transform our community.”

Hoffler-Foster spent time with the groups of kids during their small graduation ceremony to share stories and remind the children why it is important to keep learning and being safe.

“You have to stay in classes and programs like this,” Hoffler-Foster urged the children. “There is too much water around us not to learn how to swim.”

Most of the children were happy to swim and learn how to be confident in the water.

“This is a skill they can have for the rest of their lives, and they will be able to help others with their skills,” Hoffler-Foster said. “It warms my heart, because now they know something and they are excited to swim.”