Gas Company helps kids learn to swim

Above, children enjoy Ganster Pool. This pool will open in June and is located in Belvidere Park in Waukegan. –

by Tina Johansson

The pool slated to open at the Waukegan Field House has recently received a financial boost.

On Tuesday Wauekgan Park District officials announced that they will receive an $8,000 grant to help teach children to swim,  courtesy of North Shore Gas Company.

North Shore Gas is the lead sponsor for the park district’s new water safety campaign’s two year initiative called “Teach Our Kids to SwimSmart” which will benefit young swimmers at the new Field House pool slated to be open this fall.

The new pool is currently under construction at the Field House site off of Grand Avenue at 800 N. Baldwin Drive. With the grant, as many as 720 children, ages 4 – 8, will be taught swimming and water safety.

When learning of drowning statistics, Andrea Danks, North Shore Gas representative, told park district board members that she realized something needed to be done to keep Wauekgan children safe. That’s when the gas company stepped in to help by offering the grant.

“I also want to challenge other like-minded corporations and individuals in the Chicagoland-area to join me in supporting the Teach Our Kids to SwimSmart Campaign,” Danks said. “Programs like this have an impact! The more sponsors that participate, the greater the number of kids that learn how to swim and be safe in the water.”

According to USA Swimming

  • Approximately 10 people drown every day in the U.S. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • More than one in five fatal drowning victims are children younger than 14
  • Participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88 percent among children aged one to four years.
  • Seventy percent of African-American and sixty percent of Hispanic/Latino children cannot swim.
  • African-American children drown at a rate nearly three times higher than their Caucasian peers.
  • If a parent does not know how to swim, there is only a 13 percent chance that a child in that household will learn how to swim.

On a local level 3,547 African American and 8, 492 Latino children in Waukegan under the age of 18 do not know how to swim. “Partnering with the Waukegan Park District to teach children to swim and be safe in and around water is essential in this lakefront community,” said Danks. “It makes perfect sense for North Shore Gas to support such an endeavor since we are a company known for our commitment to public safety.”

According to Theodora Anderson, parks spokesperson, Ganster Pool is an outdoor swimming pool, and the only other park district pool. It is located at Belvidere Park. Ganster, which is approximately 60-years old will be open in June.


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