Florida nonprofit uses spirituality to take on “fear of water” prevalent inblack community
(BLACK PR WIRE) ORLANDO, FL (JULY 27, 2011) – Summer is here, and as pool and beach trips surge, black children remain the most likely group to have fatal swimming accidents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the drowning rate of African-American children is three times that of white children. That fact is likely due to the 70% of black children that cannot swim, and the even higher percentage that are not proficient in the water. Aimed at reducing these numbers, Camp LifeSavers (CLS), a Florida nonprofit, is taking on the challenge to teach anxious black children to be at home in the water through – however unlikely – spiritual training.
“The Earth is 70% water; our bodies are 70% water; water is clearly meant to be a vital part of our lives,” shared Shunda Wilkin, president and CEO of Camp LifeSavers. “Blacks have such a long history of being fearful of water and never learning to swim that generation after generation grows up with this fear implanted in their heads. My goal is to stop the cycle enabling our people to connect with water as they should.”
Founded in 2009, Camp LifeSavers operates the “I Can Swim” program designed to introduce water safety and swimming habits in a safe, encouraging environment. To date, the program, coupled with Wilkin’s for-profit Sunny Days Swim School, has graduated more than 550 students, including an American Red Cross Water Safety Certified Instructor now working with her. Wilkin personally developed a unique lesson plan with components both in and out of the water to ease timid students of all ages into comfortable water experiences. An empathic Christian, Wilkin uses spiritual tie-ins, allowing God to do a “new thing” in her students.
“Water is the realm of God in our world, just as the air we breathe and ground we walk on,” continued Wilkin. “My desire is to help others learn to replace the fear of water with respect for water so they can learn to love to swim.”
Bible scriptures and stories are used throughout her detailed lesson plans with passages like “For God hath not given us a spirit of fear, but of power” providing inspiration for her traditionally fearful pupils to find peace while swimming. With her all her lesson plans compiled and easily understandable, Wilkin intends to eventually have instructors across the U.S. teaching her distinctive approach to swim lessons in the next few years.
“I’ve heard every excuse in the world, from ‘I don’t know what to do with my hair’ to ‘blacks have no business in the water!’” she exclaimed. “How much longer will we put our children at risk of death before we do something about it? God has laid it on my heart to meet this challenge, and I intend to erase this epidemic of fear so we can have fun and enjoy the water safely as we are supposed to.”
Camp Lifesavers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation with a goal to reduce the percentage of black people that cannot swim to less than 10%. If you are interested in supporting the CLS cause, or getting involved in your community, please contact Shunda Wilkin at (407) 694-6168, or visit the Camp LifeSavers website at www.camplifesavers.com.
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