Feel-Good Friday: Teaching Children Water Safety and How to Swim Builds Confidence

(AP Photo/A.M. Ahad)

I have recently taken up kickboxing and am thoroughly enjoying it. Having crossed over to the tail end of 50, I now seek out new ways to move my body and push myself to learn new things. Kinetic activity is also not my natural comfort zone, so doing something that is inherently uncomfortable is serving the benefit of creating new neuropathways in my aging brain.


Not to mention, with all of the deep dives I do into the dirty world of politics, punching and kicking a bag is a wonderful antidote to screaming into the void.

With all the bad news that comes out of public schools, and especially from certain public school administrators who seem to care more about COVID money and unions than they do about the children they are supposed to be educating, this week’s Feel-Good Friday pays homage to a principal who cares about children’s lives, their safety, and does the necessary work of teaching them to embrace new things and stretch beyond their comfort zone.

Local ABC13 in Toledo, Ohio reports:

Hundreds of local students are dipping their toes into an experience that is completely new.

“We assume every child goes swimming in the summertime, but that’s not true,” said Bill Colon, principal of Greenwood Elementary. “When we’re done with this, I want every single second grader in the district to be able to keep themselves afloat in case of emergency.”

Leaders in Washington Local Schools have been discussing this program for years. Starting this year, some 600 second graders will attend eight weekly lessons at a local YMCA. They’ll spend 30 minutes learning some basic techniques, then they will be given 15 minutes to play.

“We’re not going old school here,” said Colon. “We’re not tossing any kids in and saying ‘go for it!’ We let them work their way into the pool at their own pace.”

That “old school” method was done to me at a YMCA when I was five years old, and I never stepped into a pool again until my freshman year of high school. While I have since learned how to swim, outside of a swimming pool, I won’t do much beyond wading in the water; but at least I have the skills to survive. Oddly enough, after graduating high school, I worked as a camp counselor and taught a sweet, little five-year-old named Claire how to swim. She went from clinging to the hand rail at the shallow end, to frolicking, playing, and even diving into the deep end by the end of the Summer. I was instrumental in sparking Claire’s confidence, and in turn, it ignited mine.


Dick’s Sporting Goods is donating swimsuits, caps, and towels for any child who needs them, and the whole program is covered by donations.

“Any time you can build confidence in a seven, eight-year-old child, that’s a huge step forward,” said Colon.

Physical activity is so effective because along with the burgeoning physical prowess as you learn the skill or sport comes confidence and integration – physically, mentally, and emotionally. As a youthful klutz, I sucked at anything that required hand-eye coordination or moving my body through space. I was also teased mercilessly because of this—even by my own family. Hence, I opted out of anything involving team sports or physical movement. It was only later in life, when I was able to take my time and find a physical activity that resonated with me, that I gained an understanding of the physical and emotional confidence that results from this type of activity. As a result, I stand strong, bump into walls and trip over my feet a lot less, and have sharpened my mental and physical readiness in the event of danger.

So, it is a wonderful thing that these children are not only building this physical, mental, and emotional confidence at a young age, but are acquiring a skill that will not only expand their world of play, but save their life or someone else’s. Who knows, in a few more years they may be future lifeguards, competitive swimmers, or the heads of their own companies. As noted in previous Feel-Good Fridays, physical readiness and confidence are the building blocks of awareness, action, and heroism.


My colleague Sara Lee shared this video of a young girl exhibiting her Kata. There is nothing confused about this little girl. Whether it is sports or some other form of play, this is how integrated, confident children are built.


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