Howard's Hope was recently awarded a $33,000 grant from BlueCross BlueShield Tennessee Health Foundation to support the organization's Flying Fish program. The Flying Fish program provides the resources necessary for children from low-income Tennessee households to learn aquatic safety rules and participate in organized swim lessons.
In the past year, 141 children have participated in free swim lessons provided by Howard's Hope through its partnerships with Middle Tennessee State University and the parks and recreation departments in Shelbyville and Tullahoma. Beginning in the spring of 2017, the Flying Fish program will also be available for Nashville children through the aquatics department at Vanderbilt University.
Steve Reeves, founder and executive director of Howard's Hope states, "Tennesseans are serious about the safety and well-being of their children. When it comes to the subject of juvenile drowning, we would rather be proactive than reactive. This grant will allow us the opportunity to offer the Flying Fish program to over 500 needy children, which will result in a significant reduction in the number of potential juvenile drowning victims in the state."
"Water is a great place for physical activity, and being safe in the pool or other bodies of water is very important," said Dawn Abel, Director of Community Relations and Foundations for BlueCross. "We're happy to support the expansion of the Flying Fish program to teach children how to be safe in the water."
According to data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children younger than 5-years old and the second leading cause of accidental death in children younger than 14-years old. It's estimated that every day in the U.S., ten people die from water submersion accidents. Tennessee ranks 11th in the nation for juvenile drownings.
Currently offered in Davidson, Rutherford, Bedford, Coffee, and Franklin counties, it's the goal of Howard's Hope to have the Flying Fish program available statewide within the next three years. For more information on Howard's Hope and to obtain an application for the Flying Fish program, visit www.howardshope.org or call 615-663-0313.