SUNBURY — Thanks to an idea by Karen Wiest and the Spreading Antler Children's Foundation more than 700 second-grade Valley students are learning to swim.
Wiest, the program director, and Justin Michaels, president of the Spreading Antler's Children Foundation, announced students in the Lewisburg Area School District will now join students at Shikellamy, Line Mountain and Milton in taking swim lesson at either the Sunbury or Milton Chapters of the Greater Susquehanna Valley YMCA.
The registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation started its swim program two years ago for the Shikellamy School District but has continued to grow, Michaels said.
"Thanks to all the wonderful people who support us and especially thanks to Karen Wiest for all she does for the community we are now adding Lewisburg to the districts we will be able to provide swim lessons for," Michaels said.
"Karen (Wiest) was the one who got this program going and we are thrilled and honored to have her with us in the foundation."
Wiest said she started the program because she wanted to make sure children learned to swim.
"Swim lessons can be costly and we wanted to provide a safe way to learn," Wiest said. "We want to get the word out about the program and hopefully be able to continue to get support in order to run the program."
The foundation pays the YMCA for the use of the pool and the foundation also pays for the transportation for students from each district to get to the lessons, Michaels said.
"It costs about $55 per student," Michaels said. "It is costly but this program is very valuable to our students in the Valley. We want to be able to keep the program going."
Spreading Antlers also provides towels and bags for each student in the program. Each session is 35 minutes.
The students are taught to submerge their faces, float on their backs, how to properly kick off from the wall, how to jump in the water and other proper techniques, Michaels said.
Funding comes from the Degenstien Foundation and the Sunbury Area Community Foundation. The Spreading Antlers also hosts Christmas, Easter and costume parties, and brought back the Loving and Caring Street Fair two years ago.
"We are trying to do more and more things for our community," Michaels said.
"We need volunteers and we could also use more funding. We ask anyone who wants to help us to get involved. This is a great cause and we are thrilled to be able to continue to do the things we are doing but we need to continue to raise money."
Wiest said she is happy to be involved in the program and has plans to keep growing.
"We are just so happy to be able to provide these lessons," Wiest said. "This is such an important lesson and we want to be able to continue to get more district involved.
Wiest and her husband, the late Northumberland County President Judge William Wiest have been active in the foundation since it began nearly four years ago.
"This takes everyone involved to make it work," Wiest said. "Everyone has been wonderful to work with and I want to thank the YMCA for providing a super quality learn to swim and safety program."
The Spreading Antler's will be hosting a memorabilia show at the Elks, in Sunbury on Sept. 30 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. in order to help raise money for the foundation, Michaels said.
For more information on how to join the Spreading Antler Children's Foundation or to donate contact Justin Michaels at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Source : http://www.dailyitem.com/news/local_news/kids-to-receive-swim-lessons/article_3d32363d-0c3c-51f9-bb01-6aaf35f03ffb.html