By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
THE YMCA’s Swimming For Ocean Survival programme received much needed financial assistance on Wednesday from Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH) Business Units, the second major donation by the corporation this week.
Karen Johnson, the YMCA’s executive director, said it will help the group to teach many children how to swim.
“This recent cheque comes at a critical time to support our Swim For Ocean Survival programme,” she said. “The goal is to teach as many kids as possible how to swim for the least amount of funding.”
Ms Johnson said that prior to 2009, children had to pay for swim lessons and as a result participation was limited. She noted that through the donation they are now able to offer the programme free of charge and the money would go to pay instructors.
The Swimming For Ocean Survival programme – dubbed SOS – has three levels: introductory, controlled breathing and the ability to handle a 25m swim comfortably.
According to Ms Johnson, at the end of this year’s swim season, 25,000 kids would have learned to swim since 2009.
“This accomplishment would be near impossible without the support of Hutchison and others. We are truly appreciative of Hutchison’s commitment to our programmes,” she said.
Godfrey Smith, CEO of Freeport Container Port, Freeport Harbour Company and Grand Bahama Airport Company, said they were pleased to be able to support such an important programme.
“It just makes sense to lend support to a programme that teaches young people how to swim. While survival in the water is most important, swimming is a wonderful skill for fitness, professional careers, competition and recreation,” he said.
He commended the YMCA for teaching so many young kids to how to swim on Grand Bahama.
“We take this opportunity to applaud the work being done at the YMCA and offer our congratulations on the outstanding mark of 25,000 students benefiting from the SOS programme. We are so very proud to have played a significant role and pledge our continued support. At HPH, we remain committed to the growth and development of Grand Bahama Island and wish the leadership and passionate volunteers at the YMCA ongoing success,” Mr Smith said.
HPH is a subsidiary of the multinational conglomerate, CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd, the world’s leading port investor, developer and operator.