Since the beginning of January, Iskashitaa has been pleased to offer swimming lessons for refugees of all ages and abilities. The lessons, held every Saturday morning at the Northwest YMCA pool, focus on teaching safe swimming practices and helping students become more comfortable in the water. Beth McMahon, the program director, has played a critical role in the overwhelming success of the lessons. "The classes have been amazing! The students, teachers, and volunteers are all having a wonderful time and no one wants to get out when class is over. I have found it fascinating how quickly fear can become excitement and enthusiasm."
Bria Dolnick, a graduate student at the University of Arizona, is involved in the production of a radio story about the lessons for Arizona Spotlight's New American series. When questioned about her experience with Iskashitaa, Bria commented that, "pool safety is a serious issue that people may not think about in relation to refugees. Iskashitaa is doing a great job in identifying and filling this real need in the refugee community."
As a driver and swim helper, I agree with Beth and Bria's thoughts on the classes. Swimming is a skill that I think a lot of Americans take for granted, because most of us learned it at such a young age. However, the first time I assisted with the swimming lessons I realized that explaining how to move one's arms and legs in a way that will keep them afloat is quite a challenge! It has been extremely rewarding to watch the students' abilities evolve and grow with time.
Iskashitaa would not have been able to develop the program without a generous donation from First United Methodist Church of Tucson. Thank you for your support!
Two refugees share their experiences:
"I am not perfect at swimming. I am still learning. Before I feel nervous and now I feel confident when I get inside the water. Iskashitaa and YMCA are teaching swimming but I don't have swimming class otherwise. I love to swim. It is really fun and make our body active. Thanks for give chance to swimming. I really appreciate you and swimming class."
"To play swimming is so fun and we learn to swim more and more and we are better now to swim. First I didn't know how to swim, but now I know how to swim and thanks to give a chance to us to learn. I really enjoy and big thanks to all helpers."