MINNEAPOLIS — Teach a kid to swim, and he or she is good for a lifetime. Swimming is one of those things you learn once and never forget.
Kids like Miracle Peterson and Benny Rice were on their way to learn this lifetime skill at Webber pool on Thursday. They're both big fans of it. It doesn't take much to convince them to jump in. You can feel their confidence growing by the minute.
"Before I knew how to swim, I knew how to do flips," Rice said.
"I'm better at like not being so scared of water. I used to be very terribly," Peterson chimed in.
They started taking lessons last summer but they said they came back this year to simply get better. This is thanks to the Hennepin County Sheriff's initiative. Teaching kids how to swim at just five dollars for a series of lessons.
"The Hennepin County sheriff's office is responsible for responding to any body of water bigger than a bathtub," Hennepin County Sheriff Communications Director Jeremy Zoss said. "Our folks at water patrol have responded to far more emergencies than they would have liked, where the common denominator was that they didn't know how to swim."
Zoss also added that their efforts are to directly address populations in town who may not have the resources for swimming lessons.
"We're not being shy about the fact that we're targeting communities of color with this program," Zoss said. "Most kids who are at risk of drowning are of color in Minnesota. We wanted everyone to have the opportunity to keep themselves safe in the water."
The moms who brought the kids to Webber pool Thursday agreed that more resources are needed around town.
"Historically, we have a lot of issue around swimming and accessibility for people of color particularly black people," Donyelle Headington said. Headington brought her son for lessons too. Her son and Mary Pat Rice's son were in the same group. "That's one of the reasons why I'm not surprised people in our community don't know how to swim."
"We're around water a lot and we've seen some kind of scary things happen at one of the beaches where we swim a lot," Rice added.
Both moms said it was cherry on top that it was five dollars per child for a lifetime of assurance. As for the kids themselves, they too thought a lifetime of confidence was something that was worth beyond five dollars.
"I think it's a very good experience," Peterson said. "I feel like more people should do it."
"Even if you've done everything, you might as well do it again," Benny Rice added.