When Andrew Appleby was 15-years-old he started Make A Spash in his community of Akron, Ohio. Make A Splash is a USA Swimming program started by Cullen Jones, the country’s first African-American national record holder and Olympic gold medalist. Ironically, when Cullen was just 5-years-old he almost drowned.
Andrew’s Make A Splash program provides free swimming lessons to at-risk, inner-city, economically disadvantaged kids, most of whom are minorities. The participants are between the ages of 8 and 12-years old. Each child gets a suit, cap, goggles, t-shirt, eight 45-minute lessons by certified YMCA instructors and high school varsity swimmers, snacks, and transportation to and from the pool, if needed.
According to the Center for Disease Control, approximately 10 people die from unintentional drowning each day. Drowning is the sixth leading cause of unintentional injury death for people of all ages, and the second leading cause of death for children under 14-years-old. Minority children are 3.2 times more likely to drown than Caucasian children.
Thanks to Andrew and Make A Spash, children are learning to swim who might have otherwise gone their entire lives without mastering this life-saving skill. Since the program’s inception 48 children have completed the program and an additional 100 are expected to complete lessons by June 2012.
In addition to providing swim lessons, Andrew’s program helps bridge the gap in his community between minority participants and the predominantly Caucasian volunteers, while providing the volunteers with an opportunity to share their love of swimming and give back to the community.
Andrew’s dedication to his community and devotion to spread awareness on the importance of water safety is what makes him a Daily Point of Light.