Allen Co. schools partner with The Core to host free water safety lessons

Free swimming and water lessons are available to Allen Co. second graders through The Core.
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 5:38 PM CDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - A partnership between The Core, Allen County schools, the Allen Co. fiscal court, and the Billie P. Hatcher Charitable Trust has allowed second-grade students in Allen County to include water safety and swimming lessons in their school day, free of charge.

Students are bussed from their schools to The Core in Scottsville for a one-hour lesson three days a week. With over 200 students involved in the program, the lessons take place in groups.

“It’s been going on since 2005, I think is the year it started. We call it the “learn to swim” program, but the instructors teach more of the safety part of it, more than it is any kind of swim lesson,” said Ernie Stafford, executive director of The Core.

Stafford says that the most important aspect of the program is its accessibility to all second graders in the area.

“It lets every kid, you know? It does matter your financial situation or anything. Every single kid, as long as a parent or a guardian signs a waiver that they’re allowed, you know, to participate,” said Stafford.

The swim instructors involved in the lessons say that building the foundation of water safety and swimming techniques is crucial to the student’s success and safety.

“The fact that they get it in the second grade, it’s a lifelong skill. We’re hoping that they’re going to continue to learn more,” said Doris Miller, a swim instructor at The Core.

With summer approaching quickly, Stafford and the instructors agree that area swimming spots like Barren River Lake and Drake’s Creek only highlight the importance of water safety.

Through their swim lessons, students are able to earn more freedom at The Core’s pool through their green bracelets.

“And a green bracelet means that they can swim, it doesn’t matter which way on their back or doggy paddle, from one end of the pool to the other,” said Stafford. “If you don’t have that green bracelet, you have to wear a lifejacket in our pool, so that’s kind of the goal for all the kids. They wanna be able to go down the big slides outside, and you know, we’re just not comfortable if they’re not able to have that green bracelet on.”

Swim instructors at The Core hope that through the program, other area schools will take notice and create similar resources for their students.