June 19, 2007 (ATLANTA) –
Make a Splash - Atlanta, aims to reduce drownings through learn-to-swim, encourage diversity in the sport of swimming by providing opportunities to children who traditionally do not swim and introduce swimming as a way to improve physical fitness and reduce childhood obesity. Make a Splash – Atlanta has been partially underwritten by a $500,000 grant from the Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation.
The multi-faceted program is expected to affect approximately 800 children per year over the next four years. Among its multiple components, and based on USA Swimming’s position that learning to swim is the most effective way to reduce drownings, the Make a Splash - Atlanta program will provide swimming lessons and water safety education year-round. In an effort to address the declining rates of physical fitness and rising trend of childhood obesity, the program will also introduce water fitness / water aerobics programs as well as seasonal and year-round competitive swimming programs
“Our long-term relationship and commitment to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta allows our foundation to be a resource to encourage youth fitness,” said John Bare, Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation Vice President of Sports Philanthropy. “Make a Splash - Atlanta represents the beginning of our work with USA Swimming, and allows us to provide extended opportunities and have a greater impact in the lives of Georgia’s youth.”
“We are thrilled with the opportunity to partner with the Atlanta Falcons and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta to make a difference in the lives of Atlanta’s children,” said Chuck Wielgus, executive director of USA Swimming. “We know how vitally important it is to give children the basic life skill of swimming and we continue to embrace the opportunity to use the sport of swimming to make communities better.”
The program will officially kick off in Atlanta beginning Friday, June 22 at 10 a.m. at the Boys & Girls Club located at 790 Berne St. SE in Atlanta. Atlanta Falcons players, cheerleaders and mascot Freddie Falcon will be on hand throughout the day to participate in fitness activities with the youth participants.
“The Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta is the ideal partner to host this program due to its natural ability to reach a large and diverse group of children and its ability to provide those children with quality programming year-round.” said Wielgus. “In addition, the organization’s mission and objectives align seamlessly with the objectives of Make a Splash.”
“We are grateful to USA Swimming and the Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation for selecting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta as their first local Make a Splash partner,” said Jerry Tipton, President of Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta. “Because of the Make a Splash -Atlanta program we are able to expand and enhance our aquatics program at our Clubs and make the sport of swimming a larger component of our year-round activities for our young members who would not normally be introduced to the many benefits of swimming.”
USA Swimming formed the Make a Splash campaign in response to disproportionate drowning statistics in communities of color and the alarming rise in childhood obesity in the USA, resulting in epidemic levels of obesity-related illnesses including heart disease and type II diabetes.
Joining the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta and the Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation as partners in this important program, Starfish Aquatic Institute is contributing the learn to swim program curriculum as well as training and on-going supervision for the Boys & Girls Club aquatic staff, while the Aquatic Exercise Association will provide the curriculum and staff training for the water fitness component of the program. Justice for Athletes has also signed on as a funding program. The Make a Splash campaign is supported nationally by Educational Adventures and Speedo USA. The official campaign website for Make a Splash is www.makeasplash.org.
As the National Governing Body for competitive swimming in the United States, USA Swimming formulates the rules, implements policies and procedures, conducts national championships, disseminates safety and sports medicine information and selects athletes to represent the United States in international competition. USA Swimming has more than 300,000 members nationwide and sanctions more than 7,000 events each year. For more information, visit usaswimming.org.
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS