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Monday, February 6, 2023
HomeNewsArchivesHospital Ground Kids No Longer "Fish Out of Water"

Hospital Ground Kids No Longer "Fish Out of Water"

Hospital Ground kids making a splash this summer (Photo by Karen Nelson-Hughes)This summer 34 children, most from Hospital Ground, overcame their fears and took the plunge of a lifetime, learning to swim as part of a six-week program at the St. Thomas Swimming Association (STSA) pool.
Karen Nelson-Hughes, a community relations manager for International Capital and Management (ICMC), said she would often stop by the pool to check up on the children, and see for herself how they were taking to the water.
“I saw progress,” she said. “Faster progress than I ever imagined.”
Nelson-Hughes, whose company helped to sponsor the program, said that in the beginning, many of the children were fearful of the water and hesitant to participate in the lessons.
“Now, every single person is comfortable swimming,” she said.
During the six-week program, which ended Thursday, children learned boating safety, basic first aid and were even introduced to competitive swimming.
On Thursday, the kids were recognized for their ability to pass their swim level requirements. They were also given awards from their teachers for things like "strongest lungs," most improved and "class clownfish."
The program was the work of the Swimming Association, along with the Department of Housing, Parks and Recreation, ICMC, and a few other local businesses.
STSA Executive Director Joey Hamilton said that he hoped swimming could be a gateway to other opportunities in life for the children.
On Thursday he handed out four swim team scholarships to participants who showed the most promise of joining the Stingrays Swim Team, which competes in St. Croix, Puerto Rico and in the United States.
In addition to the scholarships, the four children will have some of their travel paid for by radio station 104 FM "The Buzz."
Hamilton said swim training can teach goal setting, self-evaluation and teamwork – skills children will need both in the pool and out.
He added that programs like his give kids activity and structure – the things necessary to keep them focused on success and not on violence and gangs.
“They are not just gonna sit at home all day,” Hamilton said. “All we need is to provide structured programs.”

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