Man has plan to teach kids to swim | News | The Press and Standard

by | April 20, 2017 5:00 am

Last Updated: April 20, 2017 at 4:21 pm

A newly-formed non-profit, the Colleton County Village Investment Project, hopes to make a splash with a new child safety initiative.
Prince Anthony Rhone, president of VIP, said the group is in the midst of a fund drive that will allow them to put together a program to provide basic swimming lessons to Colleton County youngsters between the ages of 4 and 9 years old.
“VIP, in partnership with Colleton County Memorial Library, Colleton County Sheriffs Office, Colleton County Fire-Rescue, Walterboro Police Department and local businesses and agencies, has a “goal of helping 300 students learn basic water safety and how to swim,” Rhone said. In future years, he added, VIP would like to expand the age group.
Although VIP is heading the proposal, Rhone said, “This needs to be a community of Colleton effort.” He envisions the program as something “we can all be proud of.”
The non-profit’s ambition is to build a stronger community by investing into the mental, social and economic well-being of youth through education, information and action.
The idea of securing a portable pool to conduct the basic swimming classes county-wide came from Walterboro attorney and city council member Bobby Bonds. “He suggested we focus on one thing and he felt strongly about swimming safety, that we could create an opportunity to learn to swim and possibility save a life,” Rhone said.
The organization is in the midst of attempting to secure approximately $15,000 in donations to put together the basic swimming program.
Rhone says that statistics show that nationwide 20 percent of those who die from drowning are under the age of 14.  The statistics also project that 7 of 10 African-American children, 6 of 10 Hispanic children and 5 of 10 Caucasian children do not know how to swim.
VIP’s plan to have 300 Colleton County youngsters learn basic swimming techniques is patterned after a Charleston County swimming program that over the last three summers has enabled the Charleston Parks and Recreation Department to provide swimming lessons to over 1,700 elementary school-aged children.
Charleston County used a portable swimming pool to take the training program to the city’s neighborhoods.
VIP’s plan would have a large portable pool spend approximately a week set up at each of the elementary schools in Colleton County. The program would run for eight weeks this summer.
VIP would purchase a large portable pool that would measure 14 feet by 26 feet and be 52-inches tall.
Rhone said it would be similar to the pool that has been used in the dock dog show that has appeared in past Rice Festivals.
The pool’s liner is made of an almost indestructible Kevlar-like material. Pipes are timbered steel and Teflon coated paint. It comes with a 30-year guarantee.
“The portable pool makes it affordable and easy to conduct the lessons,” Rhone said. The hardest part of the process would be filling and emptying of the pool. VIP is in the process of working with the City of Walterboro to obtain permission to tap the hydrants near Forest Hills Elementary School to fill the pool.
Rhone said if the plans to transport the pool to the various elementary schools faces an obstacle, VIP is working with Colleton County Parks and Recreation Department to formulate an alternative to have the training classes conducted at the recreation center.
The largest expenses will be the cost of providing three certified water safety instructors and a lifeguard for the program. Rhone said the non-profit is in the process of working with the Lowcountry Council of Government sto establish an internship program that would cover that cost.
Each instructor will handle two students at a time. The classes would run four days a week, six hours a day at each school. In addition to the paid staff, Rhone added, volunteers will be needed to handle other facets for the program outside the pool.
If county government does not have a cargo van to transport the pool from school to school, Rhone added, VIP might need to purchase a used van. Rhone said that a portable restroom would be provided so the elementary schools will not have to be open during the program.
Rhone said if the goal of $15,000 is met, parents would be charged $35 for the four-part swimming course. If the goal is not met, the price will need to be increased. “We are doing everything possible to keep the price at $35.”
Rhone said the Colleton County Library is set to begin handling the registration for the basic swimming classes and will host a pre-water safety class that kicks off the program. He added that the non-profit hopes to be able to work with the school district to have the registration information distributed to students and their parents.
All contributions are tax deductible. For more information on the fund drive, call Rhone at 843-562-7388 or email him at villageinvestmentproject@gmail.com. Checks should be made payable to V.I.P., P.O. Box 542, Walterboro, S.C. 29488.

comments » 3

  1. Comment by Kellye Whitaker

    April 20, 2017 at 9:14 am

    This is an amazing project. Is there a way to donate online (ie, PayPal, bank transfer, etc)?

  2. Comment by Concerned Constituent

    April 20, 2017 at 9:34 am

    Tony Rhone is a con-artist. I love the idea, but i would never be comfortable giving any money to a business or charity where he has access to the funds.
    While his Colleton County Criminal record is limited to only a few incidents, his Beaufort Country record is relatively extensive, and those records do not even reflect all the local businesses who have “let him go” after he nearly destroyed their business.

  3. Comment by Prince Anthony Rhone

    April 20, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    I have always understood that in order for me to do what i feel i have been called to do in service to my community, there would be a risk of my past or even present self that would be subject to a certain amount of criticism. Please allow me the opportunity to set the record straight in reference to who i am. Yes i have a record. No i do not have a criminal record. I have been in jail for child support several times but i have also paid down my debt from 34,745.00 to less than 15,000.00 in the last 3 years according to my State Documentation. Yes i did have the label of “Dead Beat Dad” but as of today i have walked one daughter down the isle, and have great relationships with my other two adult daughters and my Son. No i do not have any access to any funds through my organization. All funds are under the authority of our organizations Treasurer and Vice President. I know of no ones business i have destroyed although there are some business owners i would have liked to have been more productive for. I have started this organization with the help of people who have judged me not on my negative past deeds but on my positive present actions. I waited like many other Colletonians for something to happen that was good for our community. It never happened, so i took the initiative. I would do it all over again. Did you know that i have been a volunteer Child Advocate for the last 3 years or that i am a volunteer for the Colleton County School District, or that i have never been paid for any of the non-profit work i do for the VIP? I do it from my heart because i care. What are you who judge doing to make your community better? I have no problem with people having their negative opinions of me, but the truth is rather you like me or not you probably wouldn’t have supported a pool project for your community anyway. I have moved on from who i was, and now i’m getting to know the Man i am. The Man i have been created to be.


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