Midway high schooler fundraises for swimming equipment, teaches swimming lessons

Posted at 1:46 PM, Jun 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-21 19:58:11-04

A Midway High School student is using her summer, to teach children in the Mission Waco summer day camp how to swim.

Phoebe Park, a competitive swimmer and coordinator of the SEEK Program, thought of the idea in 2015. She wanted to teach kids how to swim, to prevent drowning.

“I realized after seeing a lot of news articles about drowning and all these different rates about how it's really dangerous for kids. I was like maybe I can do something with something I like swimming, and helping these kids out to learn something in a fun way,” Park said.

For the last two years, she has raised money to buy swimming equipment for the children including goggles, paddle boards and noodles through benefit concerts.

Park also plays the piano, so she wanted to combine her two passions to help raise the money.

“I realized that none of these kids had goggles. Of course in a real life situation, you wouldn’t have goggles. But for swimming purposes, it’s also fun for the kids,” Park said. “So we purchased goggles for all 40-45 kids. We also purchased noodles and kick board that they could have fun with that could also help train them.”

Park said she wanted to teach the kids live-saving skills.

“Swimming sounds like something fun. It's really a survival skill,” Park said.

When the program first started, the kids were afraid to test the waters.

“I was scared to go in the water. Because you never know what’s in it,” Reign Lang-Harris, a rising 5th grader in the program, said.

She’s not alone.

“I thought I was going to drown because I didn't know how to swim at first,” Zakevin Caufield, a rising 7th grader, said.

Parks said that is typical of most kids during the first week of lessons.

“No one really wants to get in the water, they're afraid of drowning, that someone is not going to hold on to them,” Park said. “I notice they get so much more comfortable. It’s interesting to watch.”

For Caufield and Lang-Harris, they look forward to the swim lessons each week.

“I know I'm going to have a great time because I know how to swim now thanks to Mission Waco,” Caufield said.

“Hopefully not, but if they ever do get into a situation where they are in a water dangerous situation they can use these skills,” Parks said. 

The SEEK Program, Swimming Enabling and Empowering Kids Program, is through Mission Waco. The program is also a local partner with the USA Swimming Foundation Make a Splash. The program offers low-cost swim lessons.

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