New partnership prepares 160 inner-city youth for a lifetime of safe swimming
JACKSONVILLE, FL – Nearly 16 percent of all Duval County child fatalities in 2017 were attributed to drowning, according to data from the Florida Department of Children and Families. Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida, The Bolles School Sharks, and The City of Jacksonville are focused on decreasing this number through a new collaborative partnership that will provide swim lessons for 160 inner-city youth this summer.
Every summer, Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida (BGCNF) hosts summer camps at its 25 locations around the region. Taking a trip to swim at a local City pool is something the Club members enjoy every year. However, this summer, thanks to a generous gift of $10,000 raised by The Bolles School Swim Program, not only are the youth going to the pool, but they are also getting swim lessons from City of Jacksonville (COJ) lifeguards that will prepare them for safe swimming for life.
“Bringing a child to the pool is a fun experience that they can remember for a day, but teaching them to properly swim will ensure they are able to have safe, fun experiences around water for the rest of their lives. At Boys & Girls Clubs, safety is always our number one priority,” Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida President/CEO Paul Martinez said.
A combined 160 kids from Fort Caroline Elementary Boys & Girls Club and Arlington Heights Boys & Girls Club are attending the pool at Terry Parker High School for a total of eight lessons per child during their summer camp. The funds donated from The Bolles School Sharks will go toward the cost of the lifeguards and transportation for the youth to and from the pool.
“We (the Bolles School Sharks) are excited to work in collaboration with the Boys and Girls Club of Northeast Florida to help provide swim lessons in an environment where they may not be readily available. The coaches and athletes of the Bolles School Sharks swim team are very passionate about the sport of swimming and want to share this same joy and passion with those that may not have the opportunity. More importantly, here in the state of Florida and the Jacksonville area, there is an abundance of bodies of water, both large and small, contributing to the high risk of drowning. Our goal is to help reduce the risk of drowning by helping to provide swim lessons to those that have limited access to these lessons. We look forward to continued collaboration between the Bolles School Sharks and Boys and Girls Club of Northeast Florida and look forward to helping more children be safe in the water this summer!” Jon Sakovich, Head Coach / Aquatics Director, Bolles School Swimming & Diving.
“We are delighted about this partnership that affords citizens with the opportunity to safely access programs and resources available throughout our city,” said Mayor Lenny Curry. “This is especially true considering the abundance of pools, beaches and other waterways that make Jacksonville such an incredible place to live.”
All of these contributing organizations agree that this partnership has vital outcomes for child safety, and all are looking forward to this partnership evolving into the future with capacity to serve more youth in the region.
Special thanks to Ed Radloff, Board Chair of the Boys & Girls Clubs Arlington Area Advisory Board, for helping to facilitate this unique partnership.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida (BGCNF) is an affiliate of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. BGCNF has played an integral role in Jacksonville for over 50 years, providing daily after-school programs to 5,000 young people annually at 25 Club locations in Duval and St. Johns Counties.
According to the U.S. Department of Education and Justice, students who attend quality after-school programs demonstrate better academic performance, more positive behavior and better school attendance than those who do not. They also develop greater expectations for the future. Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida offers time-tested and nationally recognized programs and activities in five distinct areas: character and leadership, education and careers, health and life skills, the arts, sports, fitness and recreation.
For more information about Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida, please visit or call (904) 396-4435.
Photo caption: Bolles School Swimming & Diving Head Coach/Aquatics Director Jon Sakovich presented the check for $10,000 to Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida as Fort Caroline Elementary Boys & Girls Club members participated in swim lessons at Terry Parker High School Pool. Shown from left are Club member Jazmine, Lifeguard Lacey Radloff, Bolles School Swimming & Diving Head Coach/Aquatics Director Jon Sakovich, Boys & Girls Clubs Arlington Community & Board Liaison Jami Houston, Fort Caroline Elementary Boys & Girls Club Unit Director Eric Razor, Lifeguard Bobby Radloff, and Club member Nerwin.