Children motivated to earn opportunity to swim by excelling in after-school program

50 students meet after school twice per week

DETROIT – Taurean Redmon loves the opportunity to swim at the Boll Family YMCA, in Downtown Detroit.

"I think about that I was being good at school because my mom said if I be good at school that means I can come here," Redmon said.

Redmon is in second grade and finishing his second year in the after-school program at the Center for Success Network.

"We've seen tremendous gains with him in reading but also confidence and behavior and attitude. He just comes prepared, he is responsible, he knows our routine, so a really great kid," said Andrea Meyer, the vice president of programs and engagement at the Center for Success Network.

Redmon is one of 50 students in the after-school program. The students, in grades first through sixth, meet at the center twice a week and are paired with mentors. Together they work on literacy skills, reading skills and homework.

The students' hard work is rewarded. If they follow rules, help with jobs around the center, get their homework done and be responsible, they earn the opportunity to get in the pool with the Detroit Swims program. Every second Friday, about 25 students take free swim lessons at the Boll Family YMCA.

"So many of our kids don't have access to a swimming program or swimming lessons, and a lot of the families aren't swimmer families and so it is not something that they would naturally go and do," Meyer said.

Kennedy Dawson, a fifth-grade student, really enjoys her time with her mentor and the swimming program.

"She will come and help me with my homework and like, help me read passages and do math," Dawson said.

Dawson likes swimming and says it makes her happy because not a lot of people get a chance to do it.

Since 2010, Detroit Swims has taught more than 5,800 children to swim and be safe around the water. The nonprofit was started by lifeguards at the Boll Family YMCA because 7 out of 10 children in Detroit cannot swim.  Students at the Center for Success Network are among those benefiting from the free swim lessons.

"It's awesome, they are so excited to be in the water, they come out smiling," Meyer said.

Jacob Mack is new to the program.

"He is in fifth grade, and he is such a star in the classroom, he is always willing to help, he is just a leader," Meyer said.

The Center for Success Network assesses students to determine their levels of literacy, math and other areas of learning. The center has over 40 mentors from the community who commit one hour a week to help the students.

For more information on the center and how it works, click here.

Detroit Swims is always looking for volunteers and donations. For more information, click here.

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