Hephzibah Kids Learn to Swim

Hunter Quigley Coe Be the Boat Fund Supports Lessons

Swimming is one of the most enjoyable rites of summer – if you know how to swim. Thanks to generous funding from the Hunter Quigley Coe Be the Boat Fund of the Oak Park River Forest Community Foundation, this summer dozens of children served by Hephzibah are learning to swim.

The Be the Boat Fund was established in memory of Hunter Quigley Coe of River Forest, a volunteer of Hephzibah as well as a local lifeguard/swim lesson instructor and big fan of children, to support transformative experiences for children that promote physical and emotional health. For Hephzibah’s group home and foster care children, swim lessons are truly transformative since most have never learned to swim. Funds from the grant were used to purchase swim passes to the Oak Park Park District Pools for all the children in the group home, and swim lessons for up for 40 children from the group home and living in foster care homes.

The children who come to Hephzibah have been severely traumatized and their exposure to and participation in many normal childhood activities like swimming, is limited. Few, if any, of the children have had the carefree, joyous experience of safely playing and swimming with friends.

In the summer months, we regularly take the kids to the pools, and many are terrified to be in the water,” explains Jim Woywod, director of the group home. “With swimming lessons and the support of staff, they are much less fearful. In addition, going to the pool is highly motivating and a reinforcement for positive behavior.”

Many of Hephzibah’s foster care families simply do not have the financial resources to provide for extracurricular activities for their foster children. With funding from the Be the Boat Fund, 21 children from 15 families received scholarships to pay for swim lessons. In addition, support was granted to provide swim suits and beach towels to each of the children taking lessons.  Each family reported that their child/children would not be able to take swimming lessons without the scholarships.

For more information on Be The Boat Fund, please refer to www.betheboat.org

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