Olympic gold medalist Cullen Jones recently kicked off a national tour about water safety. Presented by ConocoPhillips, the "Make A Splash Tour with Cullen Jones" aims to educate and encourage parents, kids and communities about the importance of learning to swim. "Drowning is an epidemic but it's an epidemic with a cure” says James; this sentiment couldn't be more relevant in the Black community.
Despite initiatives to improve Black stats at the pool, nearly 6 out of 10 African-American and Hispanic children are unable to swim. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), African-American children drown at a rate nearly three times higher than their Caucasian peers. In addition to this, the Present P. Child Drowning study found that most young children who drowned in pools were last seen in the home, had been out of sight less than five minutes, and were in the care of one or both parents at the time. In a particularly horrifying incident in 2010, six African-American teenagers drowned in a sinkhole in Louisiana's Red River; none of the kids knew how to swim.
This is why Jones’ efforts are so admirable. He is visiting six cities to promote and advocate for the availability of free or discounted swimming lessons, water safety education and access to life-saving swimming skills for children regardless of their ethnic or economic background.
Make a Splash is the national child-focused water safety initiative of the USA Swimming Foundation. Through its 487 local partner programs, Make a Splash offers free or discounted swimming lessons or water safety education in 47 states.
Jones, who currently holds the American record in the 50-yard- freestyle, is hoping to be an inspiration to Black youth (and lets be honest, some grown folks, too), who still hold on to the notion that “Black people just don’t swim.”
Cullen Jones is doing something we can all be proud of: taking what he loves and bringing it back to the community. Spread the word.
To find a local partner, visit makeasplash.org.