Howard's Hope, a Rutherford county nonprofit, has partnered with the University of Memphis to offer its Flying Fish program in West Tennessee. The Flying Fish program provides 6-8 hours of free Level I swim lessons, along with instruction on aquatic safety rules, to children residing in under served households.
"We're extremely excited to bring our Flying Fish program to the University of Memphis," said Howard's Hope President and Co-Founder Steve Reeves. "As soon as the story aired on Fox 13 Memphis, over 1,200 applications from parents flooded our website. Within hours, we'd filled the roster of every available swim class."
"This is a great opportunity for the university and Memphis children," said Ashley Marie Chism, University of Memphis Aquatics and Safety Coordinator. "We're excited to host the Flying Fish program and look forward to providing swim lessons to those who truly need them."
The Flying Fish program is also available in Nashville, Chattanooga, Clarksville, Murfreesboro, and Shelbyville. According to Reeves, Howard's Hope is exploring the possibility of soon offering free swim lessons in Knoxville and Manchester. In the first six months of this year, 308 children who completed the program achieved, or exceeded, Level I swim skills. An additional 240 children will begin lessons within the next few weeks. Along with Tennessee children receiving free swim lessons, children from Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi, and Arkansas have participated in the program.
The Howard's Hope Flying Fish program is made possible due to the support of private and corporate citizens throughout the country along with being the recipient of a development grant from BlueCross BlueShield Tennessee Health Foundation. Since its inception in the summer of 2015, over 700 children have learned the lifesaving skill of swimming through the Howard's Hope Flying Fish program.