First strokes toward swimming goal

A preliminary meeting with school officials and others has been held by the Evanston 150 committee charged with addressing the goal of teaching all Evanston kids how to swim.

One of the 10 Big Ideas of the Evanston 150 process was called “Water, Water Everywhere” and it included the goal on swimming. Pam James, an Evanston 150 spokesman, confirmed the announcement made last week at the District 65 school board meeting by Superintendent Hardy Murphy that he had met with the citizens group for a preliminary discussion.

James said the group plans to survey the present kindergarten class to determine how many already know how to swim. Then they plan to designate one school for a pilot project.

Early thinking, she said, was that kids would be bused from their school to a participating swimming pool, possibly at the YMCA or YWCA, on days that school is scheduled for a half day due to teacher training. There are seven such days a year, spaced about a month apart, she said.

The committee has not yet addressed the issue of costs for the program, she said, although it recognizes that public money is unlikely to be available.  She said the committee plans to explore possible funding sources, such as grants from private foundations and the extensive use of volunteers to hold costs to a minimum.

“The cost of transportation is a major issue,” she said.

In addition to pools at the two “Y’s, there are also pools at Evanston Township High School and at Northwestern University, James noted, and she indicated that all parties have expressed support for the program and a willingness to help.

Evanston 150 is a citizens group that was formed last year to identify and implement ideas for significantly improving the quality of life of Evanston residents in anticipation of the 150th anniversary of the founding of Evanston, to be celebrated in 2013. The group solicited more than 2100 ideas from Evanston residents, which were culled down to the final 10, announced last fall.


Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio stations and business-oriented magazines.

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