Man has plan to teach kids to swim | News | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Checks should be made payable to V.I.P., P.O. Box 542, Walterboro, S.C. 29488.